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101  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers 2017 Opening Gathering of the Pack on: September 13, 2017, 05:41:01 AM
1.   Avery Winter
2.   Al Romo
3.   Andrew Flores Sr       C-Cholo Dog
4.   Christopher Stacy
5.   David Aranda
6.   David Frank                Dog
7.   Eric Bryant                  Tennessee Dog
8.   Eduardo Garcia
9.   Greg McNamee           C-Donnybrook
10.   Gerry Hibbitts             Dog
11.   Jason Heatwole
12.   Jason Jones
13.   Joel Charbonneau        C-Go Gadget Dog
14.   Jesse Pedregon
15.   Josh Rogers                  Lazy Eye Dog
16.   James Pont                    Ice Dog
17.   Jason Jones
18.   Kenneth Dudley
19.   Kia Javier
20.   Katherine Hendry         Wicked Bitch
21.   Lamont Glass              C-Wile E. Dog
22.   Mark O’Dell                Fu Dog
23.   Michael Penafiel          C-Omega Dog
24.   Mark Whennen
25.   Nick Papadakis           Pappy Dog
26.   Pete Juska                   Smiling Dog
27.   Richard Estepa           Seeing Eye Dog
28.   Roan Grimm               Poi Dog
29.   Steve Sachs                 Dog
30.   Steve Shelburn           Iron Dog
31.   Taylor Brown
32.   Vinsent Franke           Dancing Dog
33:   Jesse Pendregon
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: September 13, 2017, 12:26:06 AM
"Who knew?"

Well in addition to us here  grin  Newt Gingrich and Art Laffer knew. grin
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / F-16 had no ammo with which to take down Flight 93 on: September 12, 2017, 08:46:08 AM
http://tribunist.com/military/this-f-16-pilot-was-ready-to-give-her-life-on-911-now-shes-telling-her-incredible-story/amp/
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Canada moves to modernize anti-terrorism legislation on: September 12, 2017, 08:04:07 AM
Canada Moves to 'Modernize' its Anti-Terrorism Legislation
by Scott Newark
Special to IPT News
September 11, 2017
https://www.investigativeproject.org/6644/canada-moves-to-modernize-its-anti-terrorism

 
With the return of Canada's Parliament later this month, one of the security issues sure to attract attention is Bill C-59.

It aims to modernize and clarify Canadian national security and intelligence operations. This includes how the country collects and retains metadata, better coordination for oversight and review of counter-terrorism investigations.

These issues and the need for reform have been the subject of discussion in Canada for more than a decade and, ironically, many of the changes proposed in C-59 were specifically described in detail in a May 2016 IPT column on the subject.

The bill would revise the much-maligned existing Anti-Terrorism Act, known as C-51, enacted by the previous government in the immediate aftermath of the October 2014 terrorist attacks in Quebec and on Parliament Hill. Curiously, the bill was passed with the support of opposition Liberals who are now in power. They promised changes if elected during the 2015 campaign.

C-51's increase in CSIS authority, expanded information sharing and broader anti-terrorism power in the Criminal Code generated legitimate debate. The bill also fueled partisan and ideological hyperbole in part because it did not address oversight and accountability, and the language used in the Bill to explain and justify its changes was deficient. Its defense by the Harper government was also needlessly combative rather than substantive.

It is important to note that the bill was only introduced in Parliament in late June, 18 months after the elections. The new government may have realized that the original bill was not necessarily as malevolent as had been suggested and that the issues involved were more complex than originally thought. The bill also demonstrates that, to its credit, the government has decided to address larger national security institutional and accountability issues which C-51 did not.

These issues are of real importance to Canadians and while the questionable payoff of $10.5 million to terrorist Omar Khadr and the Liberal government's deer in the headlights approach to the flood of people illegally entering Canada to claim 'refugee' status will be under the spotlight, so too will C-59.

It contains a relatively detailed preamble that sets out the bill's national security purpose and intent, along with the required consideration of civil rights and liberties. This is a welcome feature that greatly reduces the future ability of courts to strike down legislation on Charter grounds on the basis that no justification for the impugned measures was provided by government.

The bill creates the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) that will have direct review authority over the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and, in relation to national security issues, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The new NSIRA can review activities of any department that relates to national security or intelligence and review authority for an issue referred to it by a Minister of the Crown. This should be a significant step to ending the 'siloed' environment that different review bodies encountered when trying to get the 'big picture' on national security issues involving multiple departments and agencies. If C-59 is passed, it will be the entity with the authority to investigate complaints made against CSIS or CSE and the RCMP when it relates to 'national security' issues. This review could include cases of alleged improper information sharing or unauthorized 'disruption' activities. It should be clarified and confirmed that this also applies to the actions of an agency of the federal government, as a significant gap would be created were that not the case.

While this change is positive, the agency needs to be assessed to ensure it is carrying out its duties as intended, because having a mandate is not the same thing as delivering on it. With the creation of the Parliamentary National Security Review Committee, there is no longer a need to have the new NSIRA comprised of former politicians. The agency needs people with operational, academic or even journalistic expertise in order to succeed, and it needs appropriate funding to be able to carry out its important duties.

The bill abolishes the Office of the Commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment and replaces it with an increasingly empowered Intelligence Commissioner. The Intelligence Commissioner has defined approval authority for authorizations, amendments or determinations sought by CSIS and CSE for things like communications interception, cyber system intrusion, and for CSIS, travel disruption, financial interference, communications interception, creating false documents. The scope of these new 'disruption' authorities will deservedly be debated as C-59 is reviewed.

The commissioner also is granted extensive review and approval authority over metadata (or 'datasets') acquisition, use and sharing, which is clearly a response to the 2016 Federal Court decision slamming CSIS for its unauthorized activities in this area. Metadata involves communications from cellphones to the internet. Metadata interception does not necessarily record actual conversations, but through modern data analytical technology, it can provide information on who a person communicates with, when that takes place, and more.

While independent oversight is welcome, it must not simply create more self-serving bureaucracy that interferes with operational intelligence and national security needs. This appears to be recognized in s. 21 of the act which permits expedited approval in defined operational circumstances, but this is an issue that needs to be clarified and monitored. In a welcome sign of information sharing and coordination, s. 22 of the Act requires all of the commissioner's decisions in this regard to be provided to the new NSIRA.

C-59's most important changes include a modernization of the Communication Security Establishment's (CSE) mandate that gives more specific detail and authorizes 'active' cyber operations. This means CSE can take proactive cyber intrusion measures, including, presumably, hacking and disruption, in the "global information infrastructure" including in information based systems. These changes more accurately reflect the current cyber and security environment and the activities that CSE is undertaking.
For the first time, CSE will be authorized to carry out 'active cyber operations' for the broad purpose of being able to "...degrade, disrupt, influence, respond to or interfere with the capabilities, intentions or activities of a foreign individual, state, organization or terrorist group as they relate to international affairs, defence or security." This is a significant enhancement of CSE's mandate that, no doubt, will be subject to close scrutiny.

Changes to the CSIS Act in C-59 provide more detail regarding restrictions on activities as well immunities for CSIS officers in carrying out their duties. The bill does not, however, remove the active 'disruption' authority that was provided to CSIS in C-51 which was a historic change in CSIS' traditional restricted information gathering role. In that sense, the C-59 changes to CSIS are more symbolic than substantive. The amendments also create specific and extensive procedural requirements for CSIS in the gathering and maintaining public 'datasets,' which are the compiled and organized data from 'metadata' retrieval. A preamble to the bill reinforces the priorities of mandate clarity, appropriate respect for privacy and compliance and accountability.

The changes made to the Secure Air Travel Act in C-59 suggest that Transport Canada wants greater operational control of the 'No Fly' list system and that it is finally preparing to add modern technology to the existing biographic data based system. This change will support an effective international 'bad guy' biometric lookout database. The bill also adds measures to somewhat improve the redress system for people challenging their designation, a concern driven in part by recent cases involving children improperly added to the list.

C-59's changes to the Criminal Code are among the most dramatic. They will expand the designated terrorist 'entity' criteria and repeal the unused preventive arrest and investigate hearing provisions.

Unfortunately, the changes covering people who advocate or promote terrorist acts, and the definition of 'terrorist propaganda,' are counter-productive in that they will not address the modern terrorist communications techniques that use broad social media messaging for radicalization and recruitment. There have been no reported instances of abuse of the current provisions, so the motivation for this change appears to be political. Fortunately, the bill leaves existing evidentiary standards for terrorism peace bonds in the Criminal Code, which were lowered in C-51, intact.

The bill also creates a mandatory review of the legislation and its operational impacts in five years which is a helpful strategy.

C-59 likely will preserve law enforcement's and intelligence agencies' national security capabilities created by C-51. The bill dramatically modernizes Canada's cyber security capabilities and makes significant reforms to strengthen and coordinate institutional review and oversight in the national security sector.

There are definitely a number of issues in C-59 that need to be raised at committee so that appropriate explanations of the rationale and purposes of the changes can be provided. That is, after all, the purpose of the committee review of legislation and hopefully this can be accomplished without the acrimony and partisanship that surrounded C-51.

Scott Newark is a former Alberta Crown Prosecutor who has also served as Executive Officer of the Canadian Police Association, Director of Operations for Investigative Project on Terrorism and as a Security Policy Advisor to the governments of Ontario and Canada. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the TRSS Program in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University.
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: September 11, 2017, 09:18:46 PM
Just over a week after North Korea's test of a nuclear device, the United States has secured a fresh set of U.N. sanctions against the country. The speed with which the United Nations Security Council adopted these measures is unprecedented — sanctions on North Korea ordinarily take weeks of back and forth with China, North Korea's main defender, as well as consultations with Russia. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley even thanked China, in particular Chinese President Xi Jinping. The new U.N. sanctions will bite deeper into the North Korean economy than those past, but fall short of the sweeping measures included in a version leaked Sept. 7.

That draft included a full ban on a range of oil products sold to North Korea, a freeze on the assets and travel of top North Korean leaders — including Kim Jong Un — as well blacklisting military-controlled airline Air Koryo. These broad measures — particularly the oil embargo — were unpalatable for both China and Russia, neither of which wants to see North Korea collapse. Negotiations toward the end of the week led to a second draft of the resolution, circulated Sept. 10.

The sanctions as adopted will cap refined petroleum shipments into North Korea at 2 million barrels per year (compared with 2.19 million in 2016) and crude oil to current levels (estimated at 10,000 barrels per day). They will also fully ban condensates and natural gas liquids. The biggest blow to the North Korean economy, however, is a ban on the purchase of the country's textile exports. In 2016, textiles accounted for around $752 million of North Korean exports, out of an estimated total of $3 billion. Aug. 5 U.N. measures following intercontinental ballistic missile tests went after coal, which accounts for about a third of North Korea's total exports.

The new sanctions are evidently a compromise solution, though, because Russia and China are keen to leave North Korean lifelines in place. A full oil embargo wasn't enacted, although initially proposed. Sanctions also did not blacklist Kim himself or North Korea's singular airline. And, unlike the earlier draft, the current resolution leaves in place an exception allowing Russia to transship coal through the North Korean port of Rajin via rail. The new resolution also fails to include hoped-for sweeping allowances when it comes to forceful inspections of North Korean vessels. Instead, countries must have permission from the state that flagged the vessel and can only inspect it on reasonable grounds. The measures also omitted a full ban on foreign labor. Rather, countries employing foreign workers would need to seek approval by a U.N. Security Council committee, with an exception given for existing contracts. North Korea's 50,000-100,000 overseas workers earn $1.2 billion to $2.3 billion each year, primarily in foreign currency that can be used to make overseas purchases.

The text of the resolution includes calls for further work to reduce tensions with the goal of a settlement and peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula — language that is in line with Chinese and Russian statements. The North Korean Foreign Ministry warned that the United States would pay a price if the sanctions passed, and another test in the coming days would be characteristic of Pyongyang. These measures will do little to actually prevent North Korea from pursuing its nuclear deterrent — the country has numerous ways of sustaining itself amid economic hardship, as it proved during a massive famine that ran from 1994-1998. These new sanctions will be just as difficult to enforce as those in the past, and North Korea's timeline to gain a credible nuclear deterrent keeps getting shorter.
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Not enough white gangs so designation dropped by Portland on: September 11, 2017, 12:23:39 PM
http://dailycaller.com/2017/09/10/portland-police-are-purging-their-gang-database-because-there-arent-enough-white-gangs/
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hepatitis C treatment for cheap in Egypt on: September 11, 2017, 07:53:22 AM
http://www.jordantimes.com/news/region/egypt-once-top-hepotitis-c-sufferer-draws-cure-seekers
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AC out of plastic bottles; misc on: September 11, 2017, 07:47:52 AM
http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/ngo-teaches-refugees-make-ac-units-out-plastic-bottles

http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/gov%E2%80%99t-launches-investment-map-governorates

http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/jordan-iraq-agree-set-industrial-estate-border



109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 997 attacks since 911 on: September 11, 2017, 07:28:00 AM
http://dailysignal.com/2017/09/07/foiled-virginia-attack-brings-total-us-terror-plots-97-since-911/?utm_source=TDS_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MorningBell&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTmpFMU9XSmpOakV3WmpjeSIsInQiOiJsMW1KUmFHSlRTdnQ0NEl4Z3Q3OExKa0tlRFJYcjZMdjZ0eGJtMkVnK0llRFB5OVM5OHpsQmt4amVxVEt5OFwvdUFQb1BmMWZWV21cL1JUdDZTOW8rZ2VFdGJZbnZjRzQ4WElmVktBeTRHTVJVSWtxcm9MdWd5d2VZemtyNDlaMlliIn0%3D
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Friedman: Remembering the Fear on: September 11, 2017, 07:26:28 AM
Remembering the Fear 16 Years Later
Sep 11, 2017

 
By George Friedman

Today is Sept. 11, 16 years since the attack by al-Qaida. It was an attack that changed America, plunging it into a war that raged throughout the Middle East, creating a fear of Muslims and turning air travel from boredom to burden. These are, of course, only a few of the changes – changes that in many ways have been so embedded into American society that it is hard to imagine life any differently.

There are many useful similarities between the attack on Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Both took the country by surprise. Both were followed by wars that changed the country. Fear was pervasive. In Pearl Harbor, 2,403 Americans were killed; 2,977 died on 9/11. Pearl Harbor triggered terror that the Japanese were going to invade the West Coast, a fear that led to the internment of Japanese Americans. 9/11 raised the fear that other terrorist cells were lying dormant in the United States, ready to strike again and harder.

Years later, all the wise men pontificated on how those fears were exaggerated. Of course, they had the advantage of many years; they knew what they could not have known weeks after Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Such people irritate me, not because they appear at the moment to be right, but because of an utter lack of empathy for those who lived through the attacks. By empathy, I don’t mean a condescending nod. I mean that they either do not remember, or do not want to remember, the thrill of fear that went through all of us on 9/11, or the dread of what might be coming.

Small American flags are placed in the names on the 9/11 Memorial in the Manhattan borough of New York City. ALEX WROBLEWSKI/Getty Images

I knew such people then and I know them now. Immediately after 9/11, when the planes flew again, I went to a meeting in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I was terrified of flying and frightened of my fellow passengers. The daily routine of life was shrouded in terror. The passengers on the four hijacked planes took their seats without any dread. The nearly 3,000 who went to work that morning and died had expected with good reason to go home. Getting on that plane, I was filled with a dread that I felt then and that I feel now was altogether reasonable. How else should someone feel?

At the meeting, the predominant mood was a sick panic. None of us claimed to have expected this. None of us were certain that the enemy’s campaign was over. In fact, the dominant view was that 9/11 was not a one-off. If al-Qaida had been able to carry out this attack, what else might it be capable of? What other attack might it be preparing at that very moment? We started to imagine scenarios, based on no knowledge. Our imaginations gave us enough to be afraid of. The greatest fear was that the terrorists had obtained nuclear weapons and would begin detonating them in American cities.

I remember one man who, at that meeting, was as frightened as I was and who had even more reckless thoughts than I did. I have met him since then, and as the years passed and the war against al-Qaida went badly, he began lecturing on how the Bush administration overreacted and gave into the public fear. It wasn’t only that he was delegitimizing the fear that gripped all reasonable people at the time, but that, separated by time, he pretended that he never gave into those same fears himself.
His is not an uncommon behavior. After World War II, most Americans were appalled by the measures taken in the war. Some measures were understandable and necessary, and some were mistakes. Knowing which is which in the moment, when you fear for your safety and that of your family, is hard.

The difference in Pearl Harbor and the war it started (for the Americans) compared with 9/11 and its subsequent war is that World War II ended, with a crisp and clean ceremony, creating a space for reflection and recrimination. Not so with 9/11. The war continues and shows no signs of ending. That’s because the fears that 9/11 brought up haven’t left us, even if some of us pretend otherwise. If we abandon the fight, what blows will be struck afterward? The one thing 9/11 has driven home is that no one has the right to be complacent.

But in a world without complacency, there can be no stones left unturned. In World War II, there was censorship, internment and extensive spying on the public – and it ended with victory. Without victory, there is no end – no end to the fear of Muslims, intercepted communications or spying. The fear lingers and the intrusions go on.
Being afraid of terrorists is not irrational, and focusing on those most likely to be terrorists is understandable. But it’s also something we must consider carefully. If the war doesn’t end, then when do the special efforts stop? When do we go back to normal? Right now, the answer is that this will happen when the enemy gives in. That’s another way of saying not for a very long time. That can’t be so. My question, then, is whether any of these measures helped win World War II, or prevented more terrorist attacks that couldn’t have been prevented under normal circumstances.

Those who are responsible for these measures claim that they are necessary. The truth is we won’t know until the war is over. In the meantime, there are difficult choices to be made, and we do the best we can. Permanent war brings permanent fear, and we will live with that fear until the war is ended.
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dershowitz: Hard Right and Hard Left pose different dangers on: September 11, 2017, 07:22:36 AM
The Hard Right and Hard Left Pose Different Dangers
By affirming benign goals, Antifa and its comrades make intolerance and even violence seductive.
Antifa protesters in Portland, Ore., June 4.
Antifa protesters in Portland, Ore., June 4. Photo: Paul Gordon/Zuma Press
By Alan M. Dershowitz
Sept. 10, 2017 4:01 p.m. ET
69 COMMENTS

The extreme right—neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other assorted racists and anti-Semites—and the extreme left—anti-American and anti-Israel zealots, intolerant censors, violent anarchists such as Antifa, and other assorted radicals—both pose a danger in the U.S. and abroad.

Which group poses a greater threat? The question resists a quantitative answer, because much may depend on time and place. It may also be in the eye of the beholder: For many on the center left, the greater danger is posed by the hard right, and vice versa. Yet the most important reason for this lack of a definitive quantitative answer is that they pose qualitatively different dangers.

History has set limits on how far to the extremes of the hard right reasonable right-wingers are prepared to go. Following the horrors of the Holocaust and Southern lynchings, no one claiming the mantle of conservative is willing to be associated with Nazi anti-Semitism or the KKK. Neo-Nazi and Klan speakers are not invited to university campuses.

The hard left lacks comparable limits. Despite what Stalin, Mao, the Castros, Pol Pot, Hugo Chavez and North Korea’s Kims have done in the name of communism, there are still those on the left—including some university professors and students—who do not shrink from declaring themselves communists, or even Stalinists or Maoists. Their numbers are not high, but the mere fact that it is acceptable on campuses, even if not praiseworthy, to be identified with hard-left mass murderers, but not hard-right mass murderers, is telling.

The ultimate goals of the hard right are different, and far less commendable, than those of the hard left. The hard-right utopia might be a fascist society modeled on the Italy or Germany of the 1930s, or the segregationist post-Reconstruction American South.

The hard-left utopia would be a socialist or communist state-regulated economy aiming for economic and racial equality. The means for achieving these important goals might be similar to those of the hard right. Hitler, Stalin and Mao all killed millions of innocent people in an effort to achieve their goals.

For the vast majority of reasonable people, including centrist conservatives, the hard-right utopia would be a dystopia to be avoided at all costs. The hard-left utopia would be somewhat more acceptable to many on the center left, so long as it was achieved nonviolently.

The danger posed by the extreme left is directly related to its more benign goals, which seduce some people, including university students and faculty. Believing that noble ends justify ignoble means, they are willing to accept the antidemocratic, intolerant and sometimes violent censorship policies and actions of Antifa and its radical cohorts.

For that reason, the most extreme left zealots are welcomed today on many campuses to express their radical views. That is not true of the most extreme neo-Nazi or KKK zealots, such as David Duke and Richard Spencer. Former White House aide Steve Bannon recently told “60 Minutes” that “the neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates and the Klan, who by the way are absolutely awful—there’s no room in American politics for that.” In contrast, prominent American leftists, such as Noam Chomsky and even Bernie Sanders, supported the candidacy of British hard-left extremist Jeremy Corbyn, despite his flirtation with anti-Semitism.

The hard right is dangerous largely for what it has done in the past. For those who believe that past is prologue, the danger persists. It also persists for those who look to Europe for hints of what may be in store for us: Neofascism is on the rise in Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Greece, Lithuania and even France. Some of this rise may be attributable to regional issues, such as the mass migration of Muslims from Syria and other parts of the Middle East. But some may also be a function of growing nationalism and nostalgia for the “glory” days of Europe—or, as evidenced in our last election, of America.

The danger posed by the extreme hard left is more about the future. Leaders of tomorrow are being educated today on campus. The tolerance for censorship and even violence to suppress dissenting voices may be a foretaste of things to come. The growing influence of “intersectionality”—which creates alliances among “oppressed” groups—has led to a strange acceptance by much of the extreme left of the far-from-progressive goals and violent means of radical Islamic terrorist groups that are sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Western. This combination of hard-left secular views and extreme Islamic theological views is toxic.

We must recognize the different dangers posed by different extremist groups that preach and practice violence, if we are to combat them effectively in the marketplace of ideas, and perhaps more importantly, on the campuses and streets.

Mr. Dershowitz is a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of “Trumped up! How Criminalizing Politics is Dangerous to Democracy” (CreateSpace, 2017).
112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Olympics in South Korea on: September 11, 2017, 07:09:47 AM


In less than six months, the XXIII Olympic Winter Games will begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But with an increasingly militant North Korea located less than 161 kilometers (100 miles) away, legitimate concerns have arisen over the event's potential disruption. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), recently said he was closely monitoring the situation, adding that it would be a topic of discussion at the committee's upcoming meeting in Peru. Even so, it's hard not to wonder who will bear the responsibility of ensuring the safety of athletes and spectators in Pyeongchang. The answer has been constantly evolving for over four decades.

A defining moment for the question of the sporting event's security came in 1972. During the Munich Olympics, the Palestinian terrorist group Black September took 11 Israeli coaches and athletes hostage; all of them died during a botched rescue attempt by German authorities. At the time, the committee's leaders classified the incident as an "internal problem" for the German government. The IOC, they insisted, should not get involved. Even in the aftermath of the massacre, the committee paid little attention to security because of its long-standing conviction that politics and sports don't mix. When it became apparent that the world of international sports needed to take some sort of action, the IOC made sure to place the task in someone else's hands: those of the independently run local organizing committees established for each Olympic Games.

A decade after the Munich attack, the IOC softened its stance somewhat following the election of a new president, Juan Antonio Samaranch. Far more progressive than his predecessors, Samaranch listened to the advice of IOC member Ashwini Kumar, who emphasized the IOC's pressing need to participate fully in the games' security planning process.

Pulled From the Sidelines

The first cities to host the Olympics in the wake of the Munich Games were Innsbruck, Austria and Montreal, Canada. Visitors noted in both events that the sites — particularly the Olympic Villages where athletes were housed — resembled fortresses. Instead of a multinational sporting event, the Olympics seemed to be a primarily military exercise with a few athletic contests on the side. Of course, neither Innsbruck nor Montreal received financial or logistical support from the IOC as they bolstered their defenses. The Innsbruck Organizing Committee, for its part, followed the IOC's example by passing the responsibility for security down the chain in hopes of saving money.

The situation didn't improve much at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York or the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow. Though neither event suffered attacks, they did experience several problems that revealed the systemic flaws in granting a single organization the sole burden of managing security. For instance, the Lake Placid Organizing Committee unwittingly offered a contract for security equipment to a company under investigation by the U.S. government for links to terrorist groups.

A few years later, things finally began to change. Serving as the IOC's security liaison, Kumar argued that a lack of attacks in 1976 and 1980 didn't necessarily equate to efficient security planning. Though organizing committees continued to shoulder the bulk of the burden of coordinating the Olympics' security, Kumar insisted that the IOC take on a bigger role by facilitating information sharing between the committee, national intelligence agencies and host city authorities. The IOC began to quickly transform from an uninterested bystander to an invested middleman, tracking the activities of terrorist organizations such as the West German Baader-Meinhof Group and the Japanese Red Army.

The clearest example of Kumar's ideas in action came ahead of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Amid fears that North Korea might try to disrupt the event, IOC member Willi Daume wrote to Samaranch with an unusual plan: Daume wanted the committee president to persuade the Soviet Union's National Olympic Committee to lean on its government to apply economic pressure against Pyongyang. Though there is little evidence that Samaranch followed through with the proposal, that Daume saw the IOC as an avenue of influence over the North Korean government marked a significant shift in policy. Far from refusing to mix politics and sports, Daume now urged Samaranch to preserve the Olympic movement through "decisive political ways."

Playing to Precedent

The striking similarities between the tense buildups to the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and to the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang are hard to ignore. In both cases, the games have been seen as a way to broker some form of peaceful exchange between the North and South. And in both cases, mounting bluster by Pyongyang in the run-up to the Olympics has exacerbated leaders' fears of an impending attack.

In 1987, two North Korean terrorists blew up a Korean Air flight in hopes of undermining the public's confidence in South Korea to host a secure international sporting event. In recent days, North Korea fired a missile over Japan and tested what may have been a thermonuclear device. While the Seoul Olympics ended without major incident, there is no guarantee that next year's games will do the same.

At this late stage in the event's planning process, it would be impossible to move the 2018 Olympics to another location. And the solution to greater security is not, as U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested, to respond with "fire and fury." Instead, the best chance for peaceful games is to follow the precedent of the past three decades. Complete security may be impossible to achieve, but effective and efficient security isn't.

Stratfor

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113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues on: September 10, 2017, 10:50:54 PM
Looking to the upside, I'm thinking President Bush is looking , , , wait for it , , , presidential.  grin
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Surprise retirements on: September 10, 2017, 12:19:30 PM
http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/349884-gop-fears-a-few-surprise-house-retirements-could-become-a-wave?rnd=1504907567
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump-Schumer on: September 09, 2017, 11:06:03 PM
http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/349854-dems-ready-to-deal-with-trump-but-its-complicated?rnd=1504994892
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick: When Great Institutions Lie on: September 09, 2017, 12:21:48 PM
http://www.jpost.com/printarticle.aspx?id=504551
117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 14 year old boy transisitioning changes his mind on: September 08, 2017, 06:48:47 PM
http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2017/09/08/14-year-old-boy-changes-mind-two-years-transitioning-woman-hormones/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=daily&utm_content=links&utm_campaign=20170908
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: US rallying support on: September 08, 2017, 06:43:25 PM
second post


The United States is doggedly pushing for tough new U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea. In spite of resistance from China and Russia, Washington is hoping to put the sanctions before the council on Sept. 11. Meanwhile, the threat of another possible North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch looms. Countries around the world are being forced to strategize under pressure, and the United States is increasing its efforts to enforce international isolation.

Though Manila is the fifth-largest trading partner for Pyongyang, the Philippines announced that it has halted trade with North Korea, citing the stipulations of the Aug. 5 U.N. Security Council resolution. North Korea-Philippines trade increased from 2015 to 2016 and totaled $28.8 million in the first half of  2017 — mostly in the form of electronics, bananas and garments exported from the Philippines to North Korea. But now that the Philippines is heavily reliant on Washington's help in its fight against the Islamic State in Marawi, Manila is surely more receptive to high-profile U.S. pressure on Pyongyang's trade partners.

The United States has also been working to persuade Latin American countries to cut diplomatic ties with North Korea. So far, only Mexico has complied. On Sept. 8, the Mexican government gave the North Korean ambassador to the country 72 hours to leave, citing Pyongyang's recent nuclear test. Mexico has been North Korea's primary trading partner in the region, and has maintained diplomatic relations with the country since 1980. In 2015, Pyongyang bought roughly $45 million worth of Mexican oil, while Mexico City bought a little less than $14 million in computer parts from North Korea. But, like the Philippines, Mexico has reason to align with the United States. It is currently working to get the best NAFTA deal and is eager to maintain access to U.S. consumer markets.

Other Latin American countries that have North Korean embassies or trade with the country are Brazil, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia. Under continued pressure from the United States, Peru could possibly follow Mexico's lead in breaking ties. However, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela have remained staunchly opposed to the idea. Brazil, for its part, has not yet made its stance clear. If reluctance continues, the United States could threaten to impose sanctions on or increase trade barriers for Latin American countries that seek to do business with Washington while maintaining diplomatic or trade ties with Pyongyang.

The United States will likely propose its sanctions at the U.N. Security Council meeting next week, and if it suggests a harsh resolution that threatens North Korea's economic lifelines, Russia or China could abstain from voting or even veto. Regardless, both countries will cite a need for further dialogue. To that end, Beijing is working hard to convince the European members of the Security Council to reconsider Washington's proposed sanctions. Chinese President Xi Jinping told French President Emmanuel Macron on Sept. 8 that he hoped France could play a "constructive role" in restarting talks on North Korea by expanding the focus beyond just sanctions. Macron said that France was working to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and he emphasized that his country valued China’s role in resolving the issue. That conversation came after Xi's Sept. 7 discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which yielded agreement on tougher sanctions but also emphasized continuing dialogue.

These negotiations are all taking place as North Korea begins celebrations for its Day of the Foundation of the Republic on Sept. 9. South Korea believes this holiday could be another opportunity for ICBM tests, and has completed the deployment of its U.S.-provided Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system. Meanwhile, the United States marches on, attempting to slow down North Korea's nuclear weapons program in any way it can. So far, however, its efforts have done little to deter Pyongyang.
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GPF: Syria's Shattered Future on: September 08, 2017, 06:36:51 PM
A few small, but important references to Jordan in this major piece of analysis-- the maps will not print here:


Syria’s Shattered Future
Sep 7, 2017

Editor’s Note: This Deep Dive was adapted from a piece originally produced for the Valdai Discussion Club, an institute devoted to analyzing Russia’s place in the world. The full version can be accessed here.

Summary

It’s useful to look at the past to predict the future. Little that happens in the world is truly new, and lessons can be learned from the way things transpired before. So, in trying to picture Syria’s future, observing the events that shaped present-day Lebanon is a useful exercise. Lebanon is much smaller than Syria, and its ethnic groups were more evenly proportioned before its civil war. Even so, in 1975, it went to war – and at war it stayed for 15 years. We expect Syria’s civil war – which is already midway through its sixth year – to last at least as long.

Lebanon’s post-war years haven’t exactly been peaceful either. Syria’s will be worse. The U.S. and Russia are working under the public supposition that Syria can be put back together once the fighting stops. They want a lot of the same things: to defeat the Islamic State and al-Qaida, then to build a new political system in the country. But Russia also wants to destroy any other rebel group fighting the Syrian regime, which Russia maintains is the legitimate government in the country, while the U.S. wants to form a new political system that is democratic and that excludes President Bashar Assad. They’re both likely to be disappointed. Syria is a broken country, and no amount of diplomatic handwringing or bombing is going to put it back together.

Demographic Chaos

The reason is simple: ethnic and sectarian chaos. The single-largest population group within the country is Sunni Arabs, whose main political forces are the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Free Syrian Army (not counting the large number of Sunnis who still support the Assad regime). The U.S. and Russia will not accept a political system built around either of the first two forces, and the Free Syrian Army is too weak to defeat the radical Islamists or the Assad regime.

It is impossible to know the exact demographic breakdown of the country today because of the fighting and migration, but before the war, roughly 68 percent of Syria was Sunni. Of that, 10 percent was Kurdish and the rest was Arab. Alawites made up another 11 percent of the total population. We can assume that the country remains divided between three groups: Alawites, Syrian Kurds and Sunni Arabs. The Alawites are loyal to Assad; the Syrian Kurds are loyal to the People’s Protection Units, or YPG; and the Arabs are divided – some Islamist, some champions of Assad, and all competing for influence.


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The Assad regime, the Alawites and other minorities that Assad protects will never consent to democracy in Syria. To do so would open those communities to certain reprisal by Sunni Arab forces should they come to power. The same is true of the Syrian Kurds, who, despite being the smallest and newest Kurdish population in a Middle Eastern country, have secured a de facto state for themselves and are taking as much territory as they can to try to lend strategic depth to their indefensible position on the border with Turkey. Even if an agreement emerged that all sides agreed to, the system would collapse just as the U.S.-backed political system in Iraq collapsed.

Many of the areas dominated by Sunni Arabs are in the desert, in cities hugging the Euphrates River. Attacking these cities is difficult: It requires long supply lines through the desert, which invites the kind of guerrilla tactics at which IS excels. Similarly, the Alawite stronghold on the coast is mountainous and thus very defensible. Little suggests that these dynamics will change soon.

The most likely scenario is that Syria will eventually be divided into three main areas. The first area will be controlled by the remnants of the Assad regime, which will maintain authority over the major cities and the coastal strongholds that are the Alawites’ core territories. The second area will be the Syrian Kurdish territories. There are two main pockets of Syrian Kurds: an isolated and small group in Afrin canton and a larger group in northeastern Syria, which before the breakout of war had significant natural resources and decent farmland. The Syrian Kurdish territories are on a relatively flat plain and are vulnerable to attack, both from IS and from Turkey, which has thus far not attacked the Syrian Kurds besides the occasional artillery shelling.


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The third area will be a lawless swath of Sunni Arab territory. The precise names of the groups and the ideologies they employ are almost impossible to track, but they will be fighting each other for supremacy in these areas, as well as launching opportunistic attacks against Assad forces and Syrian Kurdish forces. Fighters will continue to move across the porous Iraq-Syria border and will increasingly put pressure on neighboring countries.

IS, al-Qaida and the Power of Ideas

This Sunni Arab territory deserves a closer look, specifically at the future of jihadist forces not just in Syria but throughout the region. The Islamic State and al-Qaida are the most substantial of these forces today, but this will not always be the case. Eventually, IS and al-Qaida will lose their strongholds. They will melt back into the civilian population until foreign forces leave. Another group may arise in their place, or they may regenerate their fiefs and even try to grab more land to the south, greatly straining two Sunni Arab countries that have thus far stayed out of the fray: Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They will not be able to stay on the sidelines forever.

At its height of IS expansion, the lands it controlled amounted to roughly 50,000 square kilometers (19,500 square miles), roughly the size of Croatia. Taking into account the sparsely populated deserts and other areas where IS can operate with relative freedom, even though it is not directly in control, this territory expands to approximately 250,000 square kilometers, roughly the size of Great Britain.

The U.S. State Department boasts on its website that U.S. coalition partners have recaptured 62 percent of IS territory in Iraq and 30 percent in Syria. In war, such statistics are meaningless. What matters is not the size of the territory but whether that territory is strategically important. So far, anti-IS forces in Syria and Iraq have not conquered enough territory from the Islamic State to cripple its ability to operate.

The Islamic State’s core territory is the stretch of land from Raqqa to Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria. The most recent Syrian census, done in 2004, estimated that close to half a million people lived in these two cities alone. In recent weeks, this territory has come under serious threat. Syrian Kurdish forces have closed in on Raqqa, and despite the Islamic State’s diversionary attacks, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have advanced methodically on the city. Meanwhile, the Russia-backed Syrian army has been making gains of its own. Syrian government forces crossed into Raqqa province at the beginning of June, and more important, they have begun an offensive into eastern Syria targeting Deir el-Zour and al-Mayadin.


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All evidence seems to indicate that the Islamic State has chosen to retreat from Raqqa to reinforce its position in Deir el-Zour and al-Mayadin. The SDF has made progress in Raqqa, but notably, it left the main highway heading east out of the city open. For months, reports have said IS fighters were leaving the city. When IS convoys have attempted to head west, Russia has made a point of targeting them, but there seems to be a coordinated effort between U.S. and Russian allies on the ground to push IS into a smaller area in eastern Syria that will eventually be attacked head on.

This would all seem to suggest that the defeat of the Islamic State is nigh. That would be a premature judgment. The hallmark of the Islamic State’s military capabilities has been its ability to avoid costly defeats. IS routinely retreats from positions it knows it cannot defend, regroups and then launches new attacks where its enemies are unprepared for them. If it turns out IS cannot protect its territory against the approaching forces, the most likely course of action is that IS fighters will withdraw or blend into the civilian population and give up the city without a fight. For all of the Islamic State’s religious bravado, it has shown itself to be pragmatic in its approach to war, and it would be out of character for it to make a suicidal stand against incoming forces. IS uses suicide bombs for offensive purposes; it does not view suicide in defense as any more noble than defeat.

Even if the physical caliphate is destroyed, the Islamic State’s ideology will persist in a region that is ripe for recruitment. The attacking armies are united in their opposition to IS but will find little in the way of a common cause if the Islamic State’s territorial integrity is broken. They will instead take to fighting among themselves, opening up new spaces for IS to capitalize on and return. The forces will eventually have to withdraw from formerly IS-held territories to attack al-Qaida and other targets in Syria as well, which will mean IS can bide its time. The Islamic State is playing a long game, and its religious ideology can and will preach patience to the faithful. It will not conceded defeat.

Al-Qaida’s position in Syria is more tenuous than the Islamic State’s, and as a result, al-Qaida is not seen as an equal threat and has been able to fly much more under the radar than its territorially focused offshoot. In Syria, the group has changed its name several times (the latest incarnation is Tahrir al-Sham), but it would be a mistake to call it anything but what it is: al-Qaida in Syria. Al-Qaida in Syria has tried to forge connections with other Syrian rebel groups and has captured fiefdoms of its own outside of Aleppo and Idlib. It has fewer fighters than IS, but like the IS fighters, they are extremely capable and have proved much more successful on the battlefield than any of the moderate Syrian rebel groups.

Al-Qaida is surrounded, however, by Syrian government forces. It is only a matter of time before the regime turns its attention to the group. The U.S. has said repeatedly that it plans to solve the IS problem before targeting al-Qaida, and one reason it can afford that approach is that it knows Assad and Russia view al-Qaida, which is closer to the heartland of the regime, as their more pressing problem. Once the Assad regime focuses the bulk of its forces on al-Qaida’s territories in and around Idlib, al-Qaida will gradually have to retreat and blend into the civilian population. The operation to retake these areas will come with mass executions and purges of all suspected al-Qaida sympathizers and collaborators.

The result is that likely in the next one to three years, the entities in Syria currently known as the Islamic State and al-Qaida will be dislodged from full control of their possessions. But the problem is not defeating these groups or taking their lands; with sufficient manpower and foreign support, these groups’ grip over their territories can be loosened if not broken entirely for a time. The problem is that unless a foreign force occupies these territories, the groups will reconstitute themselves and recapture the land they lost. And there is no country in the world whose strategic interests are served by holding territory in the middle of the Syrian and Iraqi deserts indefinitely.

Fighting groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida takes place on two levels. The first is the military level. Tactical difficulties stand in the way of victory, but they can be overcome. The second level, however, is the realm of ideas. That radical Islamist ideology has a force of its own is indisputable at this point. For whatever reason – the lack of economic opportunity, the history of colonial oppression, whatever – this ideology has given meaning and organization to a generation of people.

In this sense, then, the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the myriad other groups that have sprouted up out of the power vacuum left by the civil war are unbeatable, because it is impossible to defeat an idea. This is a civil war between Muslims in the Middle East. The religious wars of Europe around the time of the Enlightenment each took decades if not centuries to play out before a somewhat stable system of political entities emerged. (And even this system eventually became so unbalanced that in the 20th century it twice brought the entire world into war.) There is no reason to expect that the Muslim wars will take less time than that, nor is there reason to believe that the U.S. or Russia or any outside power will be able to subdue these forces with the right combination of coalition fighters.

The best that can be achieved is containing these forces where they are. For the U.S., preventing their spread south into countries it counts among its allies is of prime importance. For Russia, preventing their spread north into the Caucasus is the bigger priority. Either way, the two sides share an interest in keeping these religious wars confined, as much as possible, to the deserts of the Middle East, rather than the streets of Manhattan or the subway stations of St. Petersburg.
Smoke billows in the embattled northern Syrian city of Raqqa on Sept. 3, 2017, as Syrian Democratic Forces battle to retake the city from the Islamic State. DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

When it comes to Syria, then, the U.S. and Russia are already working together even if they don’t include each other in their coalitions. The tacit coordination in the Raqqa and Deir el-Zour offensives is evidence enough of that. Neither wants to see radical Islamism spread into its spheres of influence. Neither wants or has the forces available to commit to conquering radical Islamism in Syria and Iraq – and policing the territories after the fact. The U.S. and Russia do not see eye to eye on the legitimacy of the Assad regime, but the U.S. does not have the luxury of pushing for Assad’s downfall; what would arise in his place might be far worse. The U.S. will continue to search for partners to keep IS in a cage, and Russia will continue to prop up Assad as he eventually moves on to targeting al-Qaida. And while Russia and the U.S. continue to butt heads in other parts of the world, in this part of the world, they will quietly work, perhaps not quite together, but still in pursuit of a similar goal.

Great Power Politics

But the Syrian civil war will not stay contained in Syria. Even if the U.S. and Russia succeed in keeping radical Islamism bottled up in the country, Syria has become a battleground for proxies supported by countries around the Middle East. Here, too, Russia and the U.S. share an overarching goal, but occasional disagreements may arise. The only way this could be derailed is if both sides fail to put their Cold War rivalry behind them.

The balance of power in the Middle East mattered during the Cold War – when the region was responsible for a much greater share of global oil production than it is today, and when the balance of power in all regions mattered. The region’s wars were not just local; they were between the U.S. and the USSR. But those days are over. Now, Russia is back to Soviet-era levels of oil production. The U.S. has become one of the top oil producers in the world and no longer depends as much on the Middle East. And despite U.S.-Russia tensions since the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, there is no current conflict between the two that has the same weight as the Cold War.

Russia in 2017 is smaller, weaker and less ideological than its Soviet predecessor. This does not mean Russia has given up its position as a global power, but it does mean that a region like the Middle East is less important than it once was. Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia – all former Soviet lands – are far more important for Russia’s continued power. What the Middle East offers, however, is a chance to distract the U.S. from interfering in the regions where Russia cannot afford to lose influence, as well as the potential to inflate the price of oil – Russia’s top export – by hampering Middle East producers.

The U.S., meanwhile, has been desperately searching for a way out of the Middle East since 2007. The Bush administration tried to end the Iraq War with the overwhelming force of the troop surge, which had no lasting effect. The Obama administration tried to do as little as possible, and when it did act, its policy was largely incoherent. The Trump administration now seems to be contemplating a kind of surge of its own, which is sure to be ineffective. If Russia wanted to take over management of the Middle East and its crises, the U.S. would welcome it. The point is that the Middle East is no longer a battleground for world power. It is an annoyance that neither Russia nor the U.S. particularly wants to face.

The main threat for the U.S. is that a country or group of countries will come to dominate the entire region. Besides the threat of Islamist terrorism, the U.S. views IS and its sister groups as potential unifiers of the Sunni Arab world against the United States. It also views these groups as a direct threat to the countries the U.S. depends on to maintain a balance of power in the region, particularly Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Egypt is an economic basket case with an active IS insurgency of its own in Sinai. That Jordan has gone this long unscathed is a minor miracle. According to the U.N. refugee agency, Jordan has received over 650,000 Syrian refugees since 2011 – and those are just the registered ones. Syrian nationals now make up more than 20 percent of Jordan’s population. Saudi Arabia has built the legitimacy of its political system on all the generous services that petrodollars can buy. The decline in oil prices and the kingdom’s diminished share of global production have already manifested in significant cuts to social services and to the privileges of the royal family. Saudi Arabia is a breeding ground for the types of Islamist ideologies that have broken Syria and Iraq apart, and the Islamist groups want little more than to control the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

The U.S. upended the regional balance of power in 2003, and in recent years it has tried to re-establish it on the backs of four states: Turkey, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Israel is too small to balance against Turkey and Iran, which makes Saudi Arabia a crucial part of the equation. Without the Saudis, the region devolves into a contest between the Turks and the Iranians, and Turkey has the edge in military strength, economic heft and geography. It would win out in the long term. The U.S. and Turkey have been allies for many decades, and Turkey is a NATO member, but Turkey is strong and growing stronger, and more and more it is disagreeing with Washington on major issues of national interest. Turkey is not yet strong enough to challenge the U.S. on these issues, but that time is coming. When it does, the U.S. will want to be sure that the Turks cannot dominate the Middle East unimpeded.

This is another area where the interests of Russia and the U.S. converge. Turkey and Russia have a long history of war between them. The most recent major incident between them was in 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft over northern Syria. They have since resolved the dispute, but relations remain uneasy and complicated. As Russia weakens and Turkey rises, Turkey will start to challenge Russian influence in the Caucasus and the Balkans, areas that for Russia hold greater strategic significance than any country in the Middle East.

This is why Russia and the U.S. have both, to varying degrees, reached out to Syria’s Kurds. In March, the Syrian Kurds said Russia had agreed to build a base in northern Syria and to send military personnel to train the YPG. Russia’s Ministry of Defense disputed this depiction, saying it was setting up a “reconciliation center.” Whatever it is called, the construction is a symbol of closer relations.

The U.S., for its part, has come to rely on the Syrian Kurds as the largest ground force in Syria that is both able and willing to take on the Islamic State directly. The Obama administration tacitly supported the Syrian Kurds, but the Trump administration went a step further in May when it announced that it would supply them with weapons to fight the Islamic State.

Russian and U.S. support has not gone unnoticed in Turkey’s capital. In the same way that Ukraine is of fundamental importance to Russia, or that Cuba is to the U.S., the Kurdish issue is crucial for Turkey. It is also the one issue that could significantly complicate Turkey’s rise to power. The Kurds in Syria are not the problem – at least, they are not the only problem. The issue is that Kurds, with all their separatist ambitions, make up about 18 percent of Turkey’s population – about 14 million people – and most of them live in the southeastern part of the country near Syria. The Kurds are not a monolithic group; the roughly 29 million to 35 million Kurds in the Middle East speak different languages, have different tribal and national loyalties, and even have different religious faiths. But Syria’s Kurds are closely related to Turkey’s Kurds. In Turkey’s eyes, the YPG is the same level of strategic threat as IS or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party militant group, or PKK.

Both the U.S. and Russia have an interest, then, in preventing Turkey from intervening in Syria in any capacity beyond fighting the Islamic State. For one thing, Turkey is anti-Assad, and the rebel groups with which it is closest are ideologically incompatible with the U.S. and Russia. For another, Turkey would try to destroy the Syrian Kurdish statelet that has popped up during the war for fear that the spirit of independence might spread into Turkey’s own Kurdish region in the southeast, which has seen more and more clashes in the past two years between the PKK and Turkish security forces. The stronger both the Syrian Kurds and the Assad regime are, the harder it will be for Turkey to extend its power into the Levant, and the greater the balance against Turkey in the region will be as its strength grows over the next two decades.

Iran is another part of the equation, and here the intersection of U.S. and Russian interests is more complicated. The U.S. signed the nuclear deal with Iran because it needed Iran’s help to contain Islamic State forces in Iraq, but the U.S. also does not want to see Baghdad and the Shiite parts of Iraq become de facto provinces of Iran. The Americans need Iran’s help – and over the long term need Iran as a counterweight to Turkish power – but they will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. They will block any attempt by Iran to establish regional dominance, just as they would stop Turkey from forming a unified Sunni Arab force.

Russian relations with Iran have historically been fraught, but at the moment they are positive. This is in part because Iran supports the Assad regime and views every group in the region that is not Sunni as a potential proxy group. Iran’s Shiite proxies, such as Hezbollah, are also important for keeping up the fight against the Islamic State. Unlike the U.S., Russia is not too concerned with Iran’s westward expansion. It would not, however, tolerate Persian influence in the Caucasus any more than it would accept Turkish influence there.

The U.S. and Russia are not in total agreement in the Middle East, but their disagreements are not close to reaching the scale of the Cold War. And they both share a desire to limit the spread of Islamist ideology and to prevent any country or group in the Middle East from rising to challenge their interests. They will continue to compete in some ways – supporting groups in Syria that are fighting groups the other supports, for instance – but they ultimately want the same thing: for the Middle East’s problems to stay in the Middle East.

Syria’s immediate future, then, is bleak and will be marred by more years of war and Islamist insurgency. IS and al-Qaida will suffer defeats but will not be defeated. Turkey will rise. Saudi Arabia will fall. Iran will scheme. The Kurds will fight. And neither the U.S. nor Russia will be able to wash their hands of the region as this chaos unfolds.

The U.S. and Russia took different routes to Syria – the U.S. through the war on terror and a botched invasion of Iraq, Russia through a revolution in Ukraine and an unexpected drop in oil prices – but both are there to stay. They are at odds in many parts of the world, especially in Eastern Europe. But in the Middle East, they will work side by side – if not together – to eliminate IS and al-Qaida and prevent the emergence of any dominant regional power. The U.S. and Russia face different challenges from an unstable Middle East and will disagree over many of the particulars, but at the broadest level they will be working toward the same goal: a predictable balance of power. The Cold War is over, but for great powers, the world is a small place. The U.S. and Russia cannot help but run into each other.

The post Syria’s Shattered Future appeared first on Geopolitics | Geopolitical Futures.
120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GPF: Syria's Shattered Future on: September 08, 2017, 06:35:54 PM
Some excellent maps herein will not print here:

Syria’s Shattered Future
Sep 7, 2017

Editor’s Note: This Deep Dive was adapted from a piece originally produced for the Valdai Discussion Club, an institute devoted to analyzing Russia’s place in the world. The full version can be accessed here.

Summary

It’s useful to look at the past to predict the future. Little that happens in the world is truly new, and lessons can be learned from the way things transpired before. So, in trying to picture Syria’s future, observing the events that shaped present-day Lebanon is a useful exercise. Lebanon is much smaller than Syria, and its ethnic groups were more evenly proportioned before its civil war. Even so, in 1975, it went to war – and at war it stayed for 15 years. We expect Syria’s civil war – which is already midway through its sixth year – to last at least as long.

Lebanon’s post-war years haven’t exactly been peaceful either. Syria’s will be worse. The U.S. and Russia are working under the public supposition that Syria can be put back together once the fighting stops. They want a lot of the same things: to defeat the Islamic State and al-Qaida, then to build a new political system in the country. But Russia also wants to destroy any other rebel group fighting the Syrian regime, which Russia maintains is the legitimate government in the country, while the U.S. wants to form a new political system that is democratic and that excludes President Bashar Assad. They’re both likely to be disappointed. Syria is a broken country, and no amount of diplomatic handwringing or bombing is going to put it back together.

Demographic Chaos

The reason is simple: ethnic and sectarian chaos. The single-largest population group within the country is Sunni Arabs, whose main political forces are the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Free Syrian Army (not counting the large number of Sunnis who still support the Assad regime). The U.S. and Russia will not accept a political system built around either of the first two forces, and the Free Syrian Army is too weak to defeat the radical Islamists or the Assad regime.

It is impossible to know the exact demographic breakdown of the country today because of the fighting and migration, but before the war, roughly 68 percent of Syria was Sunni. Of that, 10 percent was Kurdish and the rest was Arab. Alawites made up another 11 percent of the total population. We can assume that the country remains divided between three groups: Alawites, Syrian Kurds and Sunni Arabs. The Alawites are loyal to Assad; the Syrian Kurds are loyal to the People’s Protection Units, or YPG; and the Arabs are divided – some Islamist, some champions of Assad, and all competing for influence.


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The Assad regime, the Alawites and other minorities that Assad protects will never consent to democracy in Syria. To do so would open those communities to certain reprisal by Sunni Arab forces should they come to power. The same is true of the Syrian Kurds, who, despite being the smallest and newest Kurdish population in a Middle Eastern country, have secured a de facto state for themselves and are taking as much territory as they can to try to lend strategic depth to their indefensible position on the border with Turkey. Even if an agreement emerged that all sides agreed to, the system would collapse just as the U.S.-backed political system in Iraq collapsed.

Many of the areas dominated by Sunni Arabs are in the desert, in cities hugging the Euphrates River. Attacking these cities is difficult: It requires long supply lines through the desert, which invites the kind of guerrilla tactics at which IS excels. Similarly, the Alawite stronghold on the coast is mountainous and thus very defensible. Little suggests that these dynamics will change soon.

The most likely scenario is that Syria will eventually be divided into three main areas. The first area will be controlled by the remnants of the Assad regime, which will maintain authority over the major cities and the coastal strongholds that are the Alawites’ core territories. The second area will be the Syrian Kurdish territories. There are two main pockets of Syrian Kurds: an isolated and small group in Afrin canton and a larger group in northeastern Syria, which before the breakout of war had significant natural resources and decent farmland. The Syrian Kurdish territories are on a relatively flat plain and are vulnerable to attack, both from IS and from Turkey, which has thus far not attacked the Syrian Kurds besides the occasional artillery shelling.


(click to enlarge)

The third area will be a lawless swath of Sunni Arab territory. The precise names of the groups and the ideologies they employ are almost impossible to track, but they will be fighting each other for supremacy in these areas, as well as launching opportunistic attacks against Assad forces and Syrian Kurdish forces. Fighters will continue to move across the porous Iraq-Syria border and will increasingly put pressure on neighboring countries.

IS, al-Qaida and the Power of Ideas

This Sunni Arab territory deserves a closer look, specifically at the future of jihadist forces not just in Syria but throughout the region. The Islamic State and al-Qaida are the most substantial of these forces today, but this will not always be the case. Eventually, IS and al-Qaida will lose their strongholds. They will melt back into the civilian population until foreign forces leave. Another group may arise in their place, or they may regenerate their fiefs and even try to grab more land to the south, greatly straining two Sunni Arab countries that have thus far stayed out of the fray: Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They will not be able to stay on the sidelines forever.

At its height of IS expansion, the lands it controlled amounted to roughly 50,000 square kilometers (19,500 square miles), roughly the size of Croatia. Taking into account the sparsely populated deserts and other areas where IS can operate with relative freedom, even though it is not directly in control, this territory expands to approximately 250,000 square kilometers, roughly the size of Great Britain.

The U.S. State Department boasts on its website that U.S. coalition partners have recaptured 62 percent of IS territory in Iraq and 30 percent in Syria. In war, such statistics are meaningless. What matters is not the size of the territory but whether that territory is strategically important. So far, anti-IS forces in Syria and Iraq have not conquered enough territory from the Islamic State to cripple its ability to operate.

The Islamic State’s core territory is the stretch of land from Raqqa to Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria. The most recent Syrian census, done in 2004, estimated that close to half a million people lived in these two cities alone. In recent weeks, this territory has come under serious threat. Syrian Kurdish forces have closed in on Raqqa, and despite the Islamic State’s diversionary attacks, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have advanced methodically on the city. Meanwhile, the Russia-backed Syrian army has been making gains of its own. Syrian government forces crossed into Raqqa province at the beginning of June, and more important, they have begun an offensive into eastern Syria targeting Deir el-Zour and al-Mayadin.


(click to enlarge)

All evidence seems to indicate that the Islamic State has chosen to retreat from Raqqa to reinforce its position in Deir el-Zour and al-Mayadin. The SDF has made progress in Raqqa, but notably, it left the main highway heading east out of the city open. For months, reports have said IS fighters were leaving the city. When IS convoys have attempted to head west, Russia has made a point of targeting them, but there seems to be a coordinated effort between U.S. and Russian allies on the ground to push IS into a smaller area in eastern Syria that will eventually be attacked head on.

This would all seem to suggest that the defeat of the Islamic State is nigh. That would be a premature judgment. The hallmark of the Islamic State’s military capabilities has been its ability to avoid costly defeats. IS routinely retreats from positions it knows it cannot defend, regroups and then launches new attacks where its enemies are unprepared for them. If it turns out IS cannot protect its territory against the approaching forces, the most likely course of action is that IS fighters will withdraw or blend into the civilian population and give up the city without a fight. For all of the Islamic State’s religious bravado, it has shown itself to be pragmatic in its approach to war, and it would be out of character for it to make a suicidal stand against incoming forces. IS uses suicide bombs for offensive purposes; it does not view suicide in defense as any more noble than defeat.

Even if the physical caliphate is destroyed, the Islamic State’s ideology will persist in a region that is ripe for recruitment. The attacking armies are united in their opposition to IS but will find little in the way of a common cause if the Islamic State’s territorial integrity is broken. They will instead take to fighting among themselves, opening up new spaces for IS to capitalize on and return. The forces will eventually have to withdraw from formerly IS-held territories to attack al-Qaida and other targets in Syria as well, which will mean IS can bide its time. The Islamic State is playing a long game, and its religious ideology can and will preach patience to the faithful. It will not conceded defeat.

Al-Qaida’s position in Syria is more tenuous than the Islamic State’s, and as a result, al-Qaida is not seen as an equal threat and has been able to fly much more under the radar than its territorially focused offshoot. In Syria, the group has changed its name several times (the latest incarnation is Tahrir al-Sham), but it would be a mistake to call it anything but what it is: al-Qaida in Syria. Al-Qaida in Syria has tried to forge connections with other Syrian rebel groups and has captured fiefdoms of its own outside of Aleppo and Idlib. It has fewer fighters than IS, but like the IS fighters, they are extremely capable and have proved much more successful on the battlefield than any of the moderate Syrian rebel groups.

Al-Qaida is surrounded, however, by Syrian government forces. It is only a matter of time before the regime turns its attention to the group. The U.S. has said repeatedly that it plans to solve the IS problem before targeting al-Qaida, and one reason it can afford that approach is that it knows Assad and Russia view al-Qaida, which is closer to the heartland of the regime, as their more pressing problem. Once the Assad regime focuses the bulk of its forces on al-Qaida’s territories in and around Idlib, al-Qaida will gradually have to retreat and blend into the civilian population. The operation to retake these areas will come with mass executions and purges of all suspected al-Qaida sympathizers and collaborators.

The result is that likely in the next one to three years, the entities in Syria currently known as the Islamic State and al-Qaida will be dislodged from full control of their possessions. But the problem is not defeating these groups or taking their lands; with sufficient manpower and foreign support, these groups’ grip over their territories can be loosened if not broken entirely for a time. The problem is that unless a foreign force occupies these territories, the groups will reconstitute themselves and recapture the land they lost. And there is no country in the world whose strategic interests are served by holding territory in the middle of the Syrian and Iraqi deserts indefinitely.

Fighting groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida takes place on two levels. The first is the military level. Tactical difficulties stand in the way of victory, but they can be overcome. The second level, however, is the realm of ideas. That radical Islamist ideology has a force of its own is indisputable at this point. For whatever reason – the lack of economic opportunity, the history of colonial oppression, whatever – this ideology has given meaning and organization to a generation of people.

In this sense, then, the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the myriad other groups that have sprouted up out of the power vacuum left by the civil war are unbeatable, because it is impossible to defeat an idea. This is a civil war between Muslims in the Middle East. The religious wars of Europe around the time of the Enlightenment each took decades if not centuries to play out before a somewhat stable system of political entities emerged. (And even this system eventually became so unbalanced that in the 20th century it twice brought the entire world into war.) There is no reason to expect that the Muslim wars will take less time than that, nor is there reason to believe that the U.S. or Russia or any outside power will be able to subdue these forces with the right combination of coalition fighters.

The best that can be achieved is containing these forces where they are. For the U.S., preventing their spread south into countries it counts among its allies is of prime importance. For Russia, preventing their spread north into the Caucasus is the bigger priority. Either way, the two sides share an interest in keeping these religious wars confined, as much as possible, to the deserts of the Middle East, rather than the streets of Manhattan or the subway stations of St. Petersburg.
Smoke billows in the embattled northern Syrian city of Raqqa on Sept. 3, 2017, as Syrian Democratic Forces battle to retake the city from the Islamic State. DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

When it comes to Syria, then, the U.S. and Russia are already working together even if they don’t include each other in their coalitions. The tacit coordination in the Raqqa and Deir el-Zour offensives is evidence enough of that. Neither wants to see radical Islamism spread into its spheres of influence. Neither wants or has the forces available to commit to conquering radical Islamism in Syria and Iraq – and policing the territories after the fact. The U.S. and Russia do not see eye to eye on the legitimacy of the Assad regime, but the U.S. does not have the luxury of pushing for Assad’s downfall; what would arise in his place might be far worse. The U.S. will continue to search for partners to keep IS in a cage, and Russia will continue to prop up Assad as he eventually moves on to targeting al-Qaida. And while Russia and the U.S. continue to butt heads in other parts of the world, in this part of the world, they will quietly work, perhaps not quite together, but still in pursuit of a similar goal.

Great Power Politics

But the Syrian civil war will not stay contained in Syria. Even if the U.S. and Russia succeed in keeping radical Islamism bottled up in the country, Syria has become a battleground for proxies supported by countries around the Middle East. Here, too, Russia and the U.S. share an overarching goal, but occasional disagreements may arise. The only way this could be derailed is if both sides fail to put their Cold War rivalry behind them.

The balance of power in the Middle East mattered during the Cold War – when the region was responsible for a much greater share of global oil production than it is today, and when the balance of power in all regions mattered. The region’s wars were not just local; they were between the U.S. and the USSR. But those days are over. Now, Russia is back to Soviet-era levels of oil production. The U.S. has become one of the top oil producers in the world and no longer depends as much on the Middle East. And despite U.S.-Russia tensions since the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, there is no current conflict between the two that has the same weight as the Cold War.

Russia in 2017 is smaller, weaker and less ideological than its Soviet predecessor. This does not mean Russia has given up its position as a global power, but it does mean that a region like the Middle East is less important than it once was. Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia – all former Soviet lands – are far more important for Russia’s continued power. What the Middle East offers, however, is a chance to distract the U.S. from interfering in the regions where Russia cannot afford to lose influence, as well as the potential to inflate the price of oil – Russia’s top export – by hampering Middle East producers.

The U.S., meanwhile, has been desperately searching for a way out of the Middle East since 2007. The Bush administration tried to end the Iraq War with the overwhelming force of the troop surge, which had no lasting effect. The Obama administration tried to do as little as possible, and when it did act, its policy was largely incoherent. The Trump administration now seems to be contemplating a kind of surge of its own, which is sure to be ineffective. If Russia wanted to take over management of the Middle East and its crises, the U.S. would welcome it. The point is that the Middle East is no longer a battleground for world power. It is an annoyance that neither Russia nor the U.S. particularly wants to face.

The main threat for the U.S. is that a country or group of countries will come to dominate the entire region. Besides the threat of Islamist terrorism, the U.S. views IS and its sister groups as potential unifiers of the Sunni Arab world against the United States. It also views these groups as a direct threat to the countries the U.S. depends on to maintain a balance of power in the region, particularly Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Egypt is an economic basket case with an active IS insurgency of its own in Sinai. That Jordan has gone this long unscathed is a minor miracle. According to the U.N. refugee agency, Jordan has received over 650,000 Syrian refugees since 2011 – and those are just the registered ones. Syrian nationals now make up more than 20 percent of Jordan’s population. Saudi Arabia has built the legitimacy of its political system on all the generous services that petrodollars can buy. The decline in oil prices and the kingdom’s diminished share of global production have already manifested in significant cuts to social services and to the privileges of the royal family. Saudi Arabia is a breeding ground for the types of Islamist ideologies that have broken Syria and Iraq apart, and the Islamist groups want little more than to control the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

The U.S. upended the regional balance of power in 2003, and in recent years it has tried to re-establish it on the backs of four states: Turkey, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Israel is too small to balance against Turkey and Iran, which makes Saudi Arabia a crucial part of the equation. Without the Saudis, the region devolves into a contest between the Turks and the Iranians, and Turkey has the edge in military strength, economic heft and geography. It would win out in the long term. The U.S. and Turkey have been allies for many decades, and Turkey is a NATO member, but Turkey is strong and growing stronger, and more and more it is disagreeing with Washington on major issues of national interest. Turkey is not yet strong enough to challenge the U.S. on these issues, but that time is coming. When it does, the U.S. will want to be sure that the Turks cannot dominate the Middle East unimpeded.

This is another area where the interests of Russia and the U.S. converge. Turkey and Russia have a long history of war between them. The most recent major incident between them was in 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft over northern Syria. They have since resolved the dispute, but relations remain uneasy and complicated. As Russia weakens and Turkey rises, Turkey will start to challenge Russian influence in the Caucasus and the Balkans, areas that for Russia hold greater strategic significance than any country in the Middle East.

This is why Russia and the U.S. have both, to varying degrees, reached out to Syria’s Kurds. In March, the Syrian Kurds said Russia had agreed to build a base in northern Syria and to send military personnel to train the YPG. Russia’s Ministry of Defense disputed this depiction, saying it was setting up a “reconciliation center.” Whatever it is called, the construction is a symbol of closer relations.

The U.S., for its part, has come to rely on the Syrian Kurds as the largest ground force in Syria that is both able and willing to take on the Islamic State directly. The Obama administration tacitly supported the Syrian Kurds, but the Trump administration went a step further in May when it announced that it would supply them with weapons to fight the Islamic State.

Russian and U.S. support has not gone unnoticed in Turkey’s capital. In the same way that Ukraine is of fundamental importance to Russia, or that Cuba is to the U.S., the Kurdish issue is crucial for Turkey. It is also the one issue that could significantly complicate Turkey’s rise to power. The Kurds in Syria are not the problem – at least, they are not the only problem. The issue is that Kurds, with all their separatist ambitions, make up about 18 percent of Turkey’s population – about 14 million people – and most of them live in the southeastern part of the country near Syria. The Kurds are not a monolithic group; the roughly 29 million to 35 million Kurds in the Middle East speak different languages, have different tribal and national loyalties, and even have different religious faiths. But Syria’s Kurds are closely related to Turkey’s Kurds. In Turkey’s eyes, the YPG is the same level of strategic threat as IS or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party militant group, or PKK.

Both the U.S. and Russia have an interest, then, in preventing Turkey from intervening in Syria in any capacity beyond fighting the Islamic State. For one thing, Turkey is anti-Assad, and the rebel groups with which it is closest are ideologically incompatible with the U.S. and Russia. For another, Turkey would try to destroy the Syrian Kurdish statelet that has popped up during the war for fear that the spirit of independence might spread into Turkey’s own Kurdish region in the southeast, which has seen more and more clashes in the past two years between the PKK and Turkish security forces. The stronger both the Syrian Kurds and the Assad regime are, the harder it will be for Turkey to extend its power into the Levant, and the greater the balance against Turkey in the region will be as its strength grows over the next two decades.

Iran is another part of the equation, and here the intersection of U.S. and Russian interests is more complicated. The U.S. signed the nuclear deal with Iran because it needed Iran’s help to contain Islamic State forces in Iraq, but the U.S. also does not want to see Baghdad and the Shiite parts of Iraq become de facto provinces of Iran. The Americans need Iran’s help – and over the long term need Iran as a counterweight to Turkish power – but they will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. They will block any attempt by Iran to establish regional dominance, just as they would stop Turkey from forming a unified Sunni Arab force.

Russian relations with Iran have historically been fraught, but at the moment they are positive. This is in part because Iran supports the Assad regime and views every group in the region that is not Sunni as a potential proxy group. Iran’s Shiite proxies, such as Hezbollah, are also important for keeping up the fight against the Islamic State. Unlike the U.S., Russia is not too concerned with Iran’s westward expansion. It would not, however, tolerate Persian influence in the Caucasus any more than it would accept Turkish influence there.

The U.S. and Russia are not in total agreement in the Middle East, but their disagreements are not close to reaching the scale of the Cold War. And they both share a desire to limit the spread of Islamist ideology and to prevent any country or group in the Middle East from rising to challenge their interests. They will continue to compete in some ways – supporting groups in Syria that are fighting groups the other supports, for instance – but they ultimately want the same thing: for the Middle East’s problems to stay in the Middle East.

Syria’s immediate future, then, is bleak and will be marred by more years of war and Islamist insurgency. IS and al-Qaida will suffer defeats but will not be defeated. Turkey will rise. Saudi Arabia will fall. Iran will scheme. The Kurds will fight. And neither the U.S. nor Russia will be able to wash their hands of the region as this chaos unfolds.

The U.S. and Russia took different routes to Syria – the U.S. through the war on terror and a botched invasion of Iraq, Russia through a revolution in Ukraine and an unexpected drop in oil prices – but both are there to stay. They are at odds in many parts of the world, especially in Eastern Europe. But in the Middle East, they will work side by side – if not together – to eliminate IS and al-Qaida and prevent the emergence of any dominant regional power. The U.S. and Russia face different challenges from an unstable Middle East and will disagree over many of the particulars, but at the broadest level they will be working toward the same goal: a predictable balance of power. The Cold War is over, but for great powers, the world is a small place. The U.S. and Russia cannot help but run into each other.

The post Syria’s Shattered Future appeared first on Geopolitics | Geopolitical Futures.
121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Norks threaten EMP on: September 08, 2017, 06:09:30 PM
Sounds like MY's friend has been lurking here  smiley

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122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Electricity (including EMP, electro magnetic pulse, CME) on: September 08, 2017, 06:07:41 PM
Its not just an article, its also an advertisement

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123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Gabi Garcia on: September 08, 2017, 05:48:36 PM
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124  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers 2017 Opening Gathering of the Pack on: September 08, 2017, 11:14:12 AM
9:  Josh Rogers, Lazy Eye Dog
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: September 08, 2017, 09:07:52 AM
 shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked

Write a book Denny!
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: September 07, 2017, 07:15:49 PM
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127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 5,000 voter frauds in New Hampshire NH? on: September 07, 2017, 05:14:24 PM
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/sep/7/voter-fraud-alert-over-5000-new-hampshire-presiden/


128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Panama on: September 07, 2017, 04:54:23 PM
 grin

Dear In Focus: Panama Reader,

I had been in Panama City for about a week when I found myself with a gun pointed at me. In the span of mere seconds, I went from casually walking down the street, minding my own business, to a strange man pointing an assault rifle at me in broad daylight. For me, a Canadian, it was rather perturbing.

It happened entirely by accident. The man didn’t know me, nor did I know him or his associates. All four of them were coalesced in a circle of an abandoned concrete shell of a building that was without walls. Each faced out with their guns’ sights scanning the front and back sidewalks. Two suitcases were on the ground in the middle of them. None of them wore a uniform that might explain why they were so heavily armed.

It was all over in a few short seconds, from the instant I saw them until I figured I was safely out of their sights. Other people walked by the building, seemingly unaware of the armed men, as they were partially hidden by a makeshift fence and two running SUVs, presumably theirs.

Who those men were (private security? undercover police? drug cartels?), why they were there, what was in the suitcases, and why they had their guns pointed on everyone who happened to be walking down that sidewalk that day, I won’t ever know.

After the incident, every time I walked past that house (it was unavoidably close to my apartment), I was focused on that abandoned building. A few months later, a taller fence was built around it, completely blocking off any view inside. Who knows what goes on inside that building now? It remains undeveloped, surrounded by the regular goings-on of the city. Maybe the armed men continue to use the building for their armed meetings. It’s no matter to me, I continue to walk by on a daily basis. Out of sight, out of mind.

Those guns were the first and last I’ve ever seen in Panama, other than those of police or armored-vehicle and bank guards. Sometimes I think I hear gunshots through my open window at night, but then I see the sparkle of fireworks over the city or a broken-down taxi backfiring down the block.

The first time I saw the Panamanian National Police with their guns I was a little intimidated, though. They were cruising around in their all black uniforms and visor helmets, two per motorbike, with the back rider clutching an assault rifle. I didn’t know they were police until the next day, when a friend filled me in. Again, for a Canadian, this level of armory for a simple street cop seems more than excessive—it’s almost fear inducing. Why should they need to be so well-armed? Is crime that bad? Is the street I’m on unsafe?

Given that Panama is one of the few countries in the world without a military, it’s understandable why these police—and, importantly, their weapons—are ominously displayed. It helps instill a sense of security in the general public. It probably also keeps overly ambitious revolutionary types in check.

Perhaps it’s simply due to my Canadian-ness, that the sight of a gun in public captures my attention. Even in my hometown of Saskatoon, repeatedly ranked as Canada’s most dangerous and murderous city (with rates close to U.S. national averages), firearms aren’t generally seen or heard of. Since that first instance in Panama, I haven’t seen or heard of guns much here in Panama either.

I’m a number guy, so I looked at some data to put it in perspective, and that helped put me at ease. While the murder rate in Panama is higher than in Canada (obviously, given Canada’s is one of the lowest on the world), it is much lower than in many U.S. cities.

I never felt unsafe on my recent visit to New Orleans, where the murder rate is higher than Panama’s national rate, so why should I feel unsafe in Panama? I shouldn’t. Especially given that the areas I tend to hang around in are some of Panama’s safest. And especially given that being a gringo tourist (i.e. someone with a lot of money) means the police have an extra eye toward my safety. The odds are ever in my favor.

Of course, shootings and robberies happen every day, all over the country, but that’s true many places. Crime doesn’t only happen in bad neighborhoods or to people crossed up with the wrong crowd. Walking down the street, sitting in a classroom, a church, a theater, or even opening your front door have all been instances of murders across Canada and the United States in recent years. Bad people exist, and bad things can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime, even where you are—right now.

So never mind the guns, you probably won’t get shot in Panama... at least, no more than you would anywhere else.

Matt Chilliak
129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Weathering the Rise of a New World Order on: September 07, 2017, 06:06:33 AM
Not so sure about the final conclusions, but an interesting piece:

Weathering the Rise of a New World Order
By Ian Morris
Board of Contributors
Ian Morris
Ian Morris
Board of Contributors

Contributor Perspectives offer insight, analysis and commentary from Stratfor’s Board of Contributors and guest contributors who are distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise.

Here comes the rain again. The skies darken and the winds howl; storms of a kind that should show up only once every half-millennium now arrive every 10 years. The world is warming up. The hotter the oceans get, the faster they evaporate, and the hotter the air gets, the more moisture it holds, with one devastating result: When the clouds let go of their watery load, it now pounds the earth for days at a time, washing away hillsides and flooding valleys and plains. Even when it isn't raining — the terrible storms alternate with equally terrible droughts — the glaciers go on melting, relentlessly raising sea levels and pushing waves farther and farther inland.

This isn't a bad description of the events of the past month. Hurricane Harvey has killed at least 50 people in Texas and one in Guyana, a death toll that will likely rise; torrential downpours have set off massive mudslides in Sierra Leone, killing more than 1,000; and violent monsoons have flooded Bangladesh, India and Nepal, killing nearly 1,300. But these tragedies aren't what I intended to describe when I originally wrote the paragraph above. Instead, it was an account of what happened 15,000 years ago, when the world was warming up at the end of the last ice age. In many ways, the wild swings in weather, ferocious storms and coastal inundation were not so different from what the 21st century looks likely to bring, and we can learn a lot — much of it alarming, but some of it reassuring — from humanity's previous encounters with the floodwaters. After all, we have been through this before.

'The Long Summer' Comes to an End

Twenty thousand years ago, much of the world was more than 10 degrees Celsius colder than it is now (although, climate being the complicated thing it is, a few places were actually warmer than they are in our own age). Sea levels were 125 meters (410 feet) lower than today's, leaving vast stretches of dry land where there is now ocean. And, with trillions of tons of water locked up in ice sheets as much as 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) thick, the intensely arid atmosphere carried 20 to 25 times as much dust as today. Far fewer plants could grow in that climate, meaning far fewer animals could exist either. In all likelihood, there were barely 500,000 humans in the world — just half as many as currently live in Austin, Texas.

The main culprit was Earth's orbit, which, over a roughly 200,000-year cycle, shifts from being roughly circular (as it is now) to being noticeably more elliptical, taking our planet closer to, then farther away from, the sun. Combined with a separate 22,000-year rhythm of tilts in the axis on which the Earth rotates plus a 41,000-year cycle of wobbles around the axis, this pattern makes the Earth sometimes into an icebox and other times into a hothouse. Until 3 million years ago, the world was so warm that there was no year-round ice cap at the North Pole, but by 18,000 B.C. — the coldest point of the last ice age — ice permanently blanketed most of Northern Europe and North America. After that, a long-term warming trend began, punctuated by shorter periods when the climate went haywire, producing sudden and extreme warming or cooling temperatures.

Around 12,700 B.C., temperatures apparently jumped by 3 degrees Celsius in a single generation. Massive glacial runoff raised the sea level by 10 meters over the next century or two, and humidity leaped upward. Around 10,800 B.C., though, another episode of rapid warming had the opposite effect: Ice ridges in North America melted and collapsed, allowing what geologists call Lake Agassiz — a body of frigid water four times the size of the modern Lake Superior — to drain into the North Atlantic. So much icy water was involved that it made the Atlantic Ocean too cold for the Gulf Stream (which carries warm tropical waters from the Caribbean to the coast of Norway) to work, plunging the Northern Hemisphere back into a mini-ice age that lasted another 1,200 years. When the effects of this period wore off around 9600 B.C., the world once again began warming, and by 5700 B.C., temperatures may have been higher in some places than they are today. Archaeologists often call the period between 9500 B.C. and A.D. 1950 "the long summer" because of its warmth and relative stability.

To be sure, the changes of the past half-century differ in important ways from what happened 15,000 years ago. Unlike the end of the ice age, the end of the long summer owes more to humans burning fossil fuels than to tilts and wobbles in the Earth's orbit.

This label was popularized before it became obvious that we are now entering a new age of warming and flooding, and that the long era of relative climatic stability following the ice age might now be ending. To be sure, the changes of the past half-century differ in important ways from what happened 15,000 years ago. Unlike the end of the ice age, the end of the long summer owes more to humans burning fossil fuels than to tilts and wobbles in the Earth's orbit. Global warming is also starting from a higher base temperature than it did 15,000 years ago, and it is acting on a world of megacities and advanced technologies rather than one of Stone Age hunter-gatherers.

For all the differences, though, looking at the past is the only way to know how humans respond to warming and flooding. And the evidence, drawn not only from the end of the ice age but also from milder episodes known as the Roman and Medieval warm periods, teaches us four lessons.
The Good, the Bad and the Unfair

The first is that much of the current thinking about climate change is simplistic, because it ignores history. Previous episodes of global warming certainly produced mass mortality and disruptions that, measured against the scale of the societies of the day, were even more terrible than the events we are now seeing. Although this will be cold comfort to those enduring disaster in Houston or Freetown, global warming perhaps has even been a net positive for humanity in the long run, and it certainly has been better than global cooling.

There are many ways to measure the impact of climate on human welfare, but I will take just the crudest: the number of people alive. The global population has been increasing at an accelerating rate for most of the past 100,000 years. But, although the relationship is messy and complicated by multiple factors besides heat and humidity, growth generally has been fastest in times of warming. During the ice age (roughly 100,000-10,000 B.C.), the world's population probably doubled once per 10,000 years, but during the great warming period from 10,000 to 3000 B.C., the time required for doubling fell to roughly 1,600 years. Between 3000 and 500 B.C., when temperatures overall remained rather steady, the doubling time continued to fall to 1,000 years; but during what climatologists call the Roman Warm Period (about 200 B.C.-A.D. 300) it fell much more dramatically, to just 500 years. In the subsequent Dark Age Cold Period (roughly 300-950), global cooling set in and the world's population actually shrank slightly; then, in the succeeding Medieval Warm Period (950-1300), it once again exploded, with the doubling time falling to just 250 years. The Little Ice Age (1300-1800) again saw cooling, but while population growth did continue, the doubling time slowed to 500 years. It then fell sharply to just 100 years in the period of relatively stable climate between 1800 and 1950, but since 1950, as the world has rapidly warmed, the doubling time has fallen even more spectacularly to 40 years. By 2050, the United Nations predicts, population growth will once again start slowing down, though there is every reason to expect temperatures to keep rising.

There is a lot of noise in this story, and other proxies for well-being such as living standards or the stock of knowledge tell different — though not wildly different — tales. If there really is a positive long-term causal connection between global warming and human well-being, it is clearly complicated by many other factors. But it is also clear that previous episodes of global warming have not automatically been long-term disasters for humanity.

The moment we start burrowing into the data, we learn a second lesson: Part of the reason for the messiness of the patterns is that global warming is unfair. It always affects different places in different ways, producing both winners and losers. Climate change essentially changes the meaning of geography, turning places that in cooler times were good to live in into ones that are bad or even uninhabitable. Sunbelts, for instance, become flood zones or disappear underwater altogether.

In the last few millenniums of the ice age and the first few millenniums following it, some of the richest hunting grounds in the world were broad, low-lying plains that now lie under the Persian Gulf and the South China, Black and North seas. Geologists have mapped the prehistoric North Sea Plain in some detail (they call it Doggerland, after the Dogger Bank shallows that were once an imposing range of hills), and trawlers have recovered hundreds of artifacts from what was, around 8000 B.C., one of the most densely settled parts of Europe. By 6000 B.C., though, huge storms and tsunamis and an underlying rise in sea levels had conspired to drown these prehistoric Gardens of Eden. When the land bridges connecting what are now the European and Asian parts of Turkey were finally breached and the Mediterranean Sea rushed into the Black Sea Plain (much of which was, by then, a huge freshwater lake), the waters may have risen by as much as 15 centimeters per day. Each time the sun came up, the waters had moved more than a kilometer inland. No wonder some geologists think this episode inspired the stories of Noah's flood.

But while global warming was dealing a deathblow to the world's richest hunting grounds, it was also doling out benefits to other places, most notably the borderlands of modern Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Israel, plus Pakistan, China, Peru and Mexico. Here, warmer and wetter weather made it possible for humans to domesticate the wild precursors of today's wheat, barley, rice, corn, quinoa, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and llamas, in the process turning themselves into farmers. And in all these places, populations boomed, and people began to find more sophisticated ways to organize themselves. Over the next few thousand years, farmers expanded outward from their original homelands, killing, enslaving or absorbing nearly all the foragers in the world and driving the few miserable survivors into jungles, deserts and tundras that were either too hot or too cold for the farmers themselves to want.

This depressing story points toward a third lesson. Global warming is not just unfair; it also turns the geostrategic order on its head. While 21st-century storms and floods will be less devastating than those that accompanied the end of the ice age, geologists assure us that the sea is likely to swallow up much of the coastal plains of India, Bangladesh, Northern Europe, eastern China and both coasts of North America. Just like Doggerland and Sundaland (now under the South China Sea) 10,000 years ago, these are some of the most densely populated and richest parts of the world. By contrast, the areas likely to benefit most from global warming — the frozen wastes of Alaska, Canada, northern Scandinavia and Russia — are virtually uninhabited. Billions of people will thus migrate from south to north in a process that will produce new superpowers and unprecedented geostrategic instability. More alarming still, the regions where climate change is already having the greatest impact contain a disproportionate number of the world's poorest societies, unstable governments and nuclear proliferators. If the worst-case scenarios come to pass, the 21st century might definitively disprove any notion that global warming has been a net positive for humanity after all.

That said, the fourth lesson of the history of global warming is more upbeat. Humanity is astonishingly resilient: For all the traumas it inflicts, global warming has not wiped us out. (Global cooling has actually come much closer; by some calculations, things got so bad around 100,000 B.C. that there were only 20,000 humans left alive, all clustered close to the equator in Africa.) We have always risen to the challenge, by migrating, by figuring out ways to buffer the impact of climate change, or even by finding unexpected benefits in it. These responses regularly required people to change how they lived, often in ways they must have found unappealing. But they did it anyway, because the alternative was extinction.

The Wrong Side of History

Of course, there are no guarantees that we will repeat this feat in the coming century. On the upside, the past decade has already seen astonishing shifts toward new, cleaner energy sources, new ways of producing food, new ways to protect coastal cities and new forms of cooperation among governments. We have even learned to mitigate the worst floods. The cyclone that hit Bangladesh in 1970 killed 300,000-400,000 people, but the comparable disaster in 2007 killed only 4,234. In much the same way, Hurricane Katrina killed 30 times as many Americans in 2005 as Hurricane Harvey has so far this year.

On the downside, the past decade has also brought mounting resistance to change in some quarters. In the United States, the current administration has withdrawn from the Paris climate accord, disbanded its advisory panel on climate change by failing to renew appointments, and defunded the National Flood Insurance Program as part of its effort to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. If global warming carries on as it has in the past, hanging onto our old ways while the floodwaters rise around us seems a surefire way to end up on the wrong side of the next geostrategic order.
130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Heroic Delusion on: September 07, 2017, 05:40:12 AM


Revisiting Europe, the Heroic Delusion
 
By Jacob L. Shapiro
The European Union is what political philosopher Leo Strauss might have called a “heroic delusion.” It is a noble dream, a dream that the only thing necessary for peace in Europe is shared prosperity. And for a time, the EU was living the dream. The hardships of the 2008 financial crisis, however, showed what a flimsy basis shared prosperity was for the EU’s future.  Much of the infighting we observe today within the EU is a last-ditch effort by some to give the EU the types of powers it would need to forge an effective and politically sovereign entity. They are unlikely to succeed.

Take the bureaucratic spat between Poland and the European Commission. The two have long been at odds over the current Polish government’s desire to reform Poland’s judicial system in a way that gives it more power to select and remove judges. The latest chapter in the saga began Aug. 28, when Poland’s Foreign Ministry released a statement rejecting the commission’s critiques of Poland as “groundless” and sent a 12-page document of legal reasoning to Brussels to underscore the point. The European Commission fired back Aug. 31, with the deputy head of the commission saying the body would not drop the issue and would seek all means at its disposal to bring Poland to heel. The same day, in an interview with Le Point, French President Emmanuel Macron said Poland’s policies were “very worrying,” saying they call into question European solidarity and even the rule of law itself.

This kind of back-and-forth isn’t all that unusual for bureaucracies such as the EU’s, but it ignores the inescapable dilemma: The Continent is populated not by Europeans but by several vastly different nations. The inability or unwillingness to understand as much was apparent in the rest of Macron’s interview in Le Point. When asked how he would revive Europe, his first answer was, “I believe in Europe.” To believe in Europe is to confess that the existence of “Europe” as a political entity is based not on fact or shared interest but on hope. Hope is a good thing, and there is a time and a place for it. But hope is not what defines lasting political realities.

Not a Country

I don’t mean to deride Macron for suggesting a collective identity. Community, after all, is important. Humans formed them because the world is dangerous and volatile and, for better or worse, they have come to identify with them. After Hurricane Harvey, for example, Americans of all ethnicities, genders and political persuasions donated their time, money, thoughts and prayers to those in need. They did this because no matter their differences, they share an elemental bond of being American.
 The French and European Union flags stand next to each other during a meeting of the French and European Commission presidents. AURORE BELOT/AFP/Getty Images
The problem is that the community Macron is talking about doesn’t really exist. At one point in the interview, the French president spoke of Europe regaining its sovereignty. The interviewer pushed back, noting with surprise that France’s pro-EU president would speak of sovereignty in his first major interview with the press. Macron, ever the believer, responded that he envisioned Europe as a continent “of the dimensions of American and Chinese powers.” Strictly speaking, Macron is right about Europe’s potential. The EU has a gross domestic product of around $16 trillion. That’s just a bit less than the GDP of the United States ($18.6 trillion) and almost a third larger than China’s ($11.2 trillion). Taken together, the EU has more than 500 million residents, making it the third-most populous country in the world after China and India – if it were a country.

The EU, however, is not a country, and it is not about to become one. If Europe were a country, German tax dollars would be allocated toward paying down Greece’s debt. If Europe were a country, its military would be deployed in Poland to defend its borders from Russia. If Europe were a country, rules would apply equally to all: France wouldn’t get to ignore European budget deficit rules and then single out Poland as a black sheep for violating democratic norms because of its judicial reforms. If Europe were a country, a Romanian would be willing to die to protect a Spaniard. I have no doubt that there are people of goodwill in all these countries, none of whom wish to see harm visited upon others. But there’s a difference between passive hope for all to live in peace, and active sacrifice to protect members of the same community.
This sense of community is alive and well in most pockets of Europe. And it has to be. In the era of the nation-state, governments are legitimized in part by their ability to represent and protect a particular nation: a group of people who speak the same language, who grew up in the same place, and who feel that if one of their own is under attack, then the nation is under attack. Even the most stalwart supporters of European integration feel a deep sense of national pride in their own countries. France, Germany and the other Western European states represent the very cradle of nationalism itself, and even the most passionate of EU supporters don’t want to surrender their national identities.

And yet the leaders of these countries cower in the face of their nationalists, no doubt a consequence of the Continent’s sordid history. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that there were those who sought to conquer Europe with Panzer divisions instead of neoliberal trade regimes. But perhaps there is more than just fear of the past at work here. Perhaps there is also a yearning for the past too. Perhaps Western European countries are nostalgic, wistful for a time when individual European nation-states ruled the world, and cognizant of the reality that the only way that can come to pass again is if all of Europe’s vast geographic, military and economic resources are harnessed and directed toward the pursuit of one goal as opposed to 51 sets of different goals.

Hands Tied

And therein lies the difficulty of talking about Europe. So diverse is the Continent that it’s often more useful to think of it regionally: Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe. (Useful doesn’t mean perfect. There are negative connotations associated with “Eastern Europe,” for example, as being considered retrograde or backwater. You might get into knock-down, drag-out fights in bars in places like Prague and Budapest if you suggest to a local that you are visiting eastern, and not central, Europe.) But even if these designations help to broadly explain sometimes-inexplicable dynamics, they still belie just how complex Europe really is. Countries such as Hungary and Poland, which we at GPF categorize as Eastern Europe, have been pushing back against the EU in recent years. Supporters of greater EU integration often try to single Hungary and Poland out as exceptions rather than as harbingers of future trends. They don’t see, for instance, that Hungary and Poland’s refusal to take the refugees the EU wanted them to take in 2015 wasn’t exceptional but was a sign of things to come (think of how much anti-EU sentiment over refugees shaped Brexit). They say, as Macron said last week, that Poland does not speak for Eastern Europe, that Hungary’s government does not speak for the true desires of the Hungarian people. They say that the masses of Europe are pro-European, and that Brussels is charged with safeguarding Europe’s cherished principles of tolerance, equality and freedom, and that if everyone would just follow the rules Europe would rule the world once more.

And they’re right, insofar as Poland does not speak for Eastern Europe. Hungary does not speak for Romania. But France and Germany don’t speak for Eastern Europe, either – the only times in history when they did was at gunpoint. Consider also the perspective of a country like Poland. Poland has roughly two-thirds the population of France. But in economic terms, Poland’s GDP is just under 20 percent of France’s. While Western Europe was rebuilt after World War II with American dollars, Eastern Europe languished behind the Iron Curtain. Now, Eastern Europe is emerging – more self-confident, more defensive of its independence, the most economically dynamic region in Europe. The government in Warsaw does not oppose the EU in principle. It wants to be treated fairly and reacts harshly when it faces what it sees as Brussels’ double standards.

The EU was not built to create a liberal democratic Europe. That was just its ideological raiment. The EU was created to tie Germany’s hands behind its back (and to tie Germany’s and France’s hands together) so that the Continent wouldn’t rip itself apart as it had in World War I and World War II. Countries like Poland are not willing to cede sovereignty to an institution that has no reason to care about them, other than a sheet of paper that says it should. Why would Poland want to leave its fate in the hands of a committee constituted by very few Poles that largely discounts Poland from its decision-making? Rightly or wrongly, Poland speaks for Poland, and Polish voters hold the Polish government accountable for how well it speaks for them.

The nobility of the EU’s dream does not have to die with the EU. Peace is never an eternal state of affairs, but perhaps it will last longer if countries treat each other as they are, and not as they would want them to be. Perhaps not. The only thing that is certain is that the future of Europe will be defined as it always has been: by decisions made in London, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Budapest, Belgrade, Rome and other national capitals. The EU may issue as many statements as it wishes, and no doubt will threaten to throw all the articles of the Maastricht Treaty at European countries of whom its bureaucratic institutions do not approve. Poland is the target now. That’s because Poland is changing Europe’s balance of power whether Brussels approves or not, and no amount of indignation, whether justified or not, about Polish judicial reforms can stop that train.
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: A Little DACA Honesty on: September 07, 2017, 05:35:03 AM
Weird formatting here, probably best to read on the NRO site,  http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/451117/daca-immigration-honesty-about-problem but content posted here for our record:

The Corner The one and only. A Little DACA Honesty Share article on Facebook share Tweet article tweet Plus one article on Google Plus +1 Print Article Adjust font size AA by Victor Davis Hanson September 6, 2017 12:24 PM @vdhanson


It is surreal to look at more than a dozen clips of Barack Obama in non-campaign mode prior to 2012 assuring the country (“I am not king”) that he simply could not usurp the power of the Congress and by fiat illegally issue blanket amnesties in precisely the fashion he would in 2012 — presumably on the assumption that new polls worded along the lines of “would you deport small children brought by their parents to the country as infants” showed a majority of Americans would not.

So, on the basis of both short-term gain in 2012 and long-term progressive interest in creating a new demographic reality in swing states in the southwest, Obama eagerly did exactly what he had said that he could not legally do — and not with reluctance, but with the self-righteous zeal of a convert, and in condemnation of anyone morally suspect enough to have agreed with his position prior to his reelection campaign. Such is identity politics.

But note his about-face came only after the fact that from January 2009 to January 2011, Obama enjoyed a large majority in the House, and until Scott Brown’s election in 2010, a supermajority in the Senate, led by Harry Reid. And yet over that period, Obama did not force over the impotent objections of Republicans a DACA bill that would now have precluded the present conundrum — in the fashion in which he had successfully pushed through Obamacare without a single Republican vote.

Observers have a right to be a little skeptical about the current outrage that was not voiced against an American president in 2009–12, who passed on the opportunity of DACA amnesty, and added insult to injury to “dreamers” by asserting that his constitutional lawyering made it unethical and illegal to pass a law by fiat and circumventing the Congress — at least until he needed reelection heft.

Trump’s six-month hiatus returns the issue to constitutionality and thus back into the hands of the Congress, and presumably it seeks to avoid ad hoc court decisions or executive orders.

Most Americans are not willing to grant blanket amnesty, but rather to offer in some cases legalized residence (if done constitutionally by Congress, and signed by the president) to those few hundred thousands who were brought illegally to the U.S. as minors and who have not committed a crime, are employed or in school, and are not on public assistance. I have had dozens of undocumented immigrants as students over the years, know many neighbors who are here illegally, and have personal friends without legality — and the stereotypes of those in their later twenties or early thirties who are employed or in school, speak fluent English, and are law-abiding are largely true: They are impressive people for whom a green card is a good idea.

That dispensation would leave it up to particular DACA immigrants to decide whether to enjoy renewable green-card residence or, in cases, to pay a fine (many after 18 and before DACA chose not to address their illegal status), satisfy existing requirements, and seek citizenship — a legislative compromise possible if the present aberration of massive illegal immigration is seen as a one-time lapse in the law, and we return to secure borders, credible fencing, and strict enforcement of existing immigration laws, and meritocratic, diverse, and ethnically blind legal-immigration reforms.

Yet many doubt that the critics of the present DACA reprieve are willing to adopt the latter conditions when they can demagogue the issue.

Left unseen also is the elephant in the room: If DACA immigrants are seen by both sides as a particular class alone deserving of ex officio amnesties (e.g., 800,000 to 1 million?), then de facto is that a concession that other adults who willingly broke the law in entering and residing in the U.S., often through illegal agencies of document fraud and false identities, are not eligible for a similar assortment of gradated amenities? Does DACA then offer final clarity about who is and is not eligible for green-card amnesty? Or is DACA a ruse or first step to blanket amnesties for 11-15 million to come?

And we will see whether immigration protests can square the circle of harsh criticism of the U.S. (as witnessed, for example, in prior Cinco de Mayo rallies, La Raza sloganeering, and the boilerplate of ethnic-studies curricula on campus) with the overwhelming desire to stay at all costs in a country so often unfairly damned as irredeemably racist and bigoted — in order to avoid at all costs crossing the border to countries so often romanticized in the abstract. We are living in interesting but largely intellectually dishonest times.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/451117/daca-immigration-honesty-about-problem
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Muslims continue the long tradition of religious moderation on: September 07, 2017, 05:22:23 AM
This forum is not an echo chamber, we search for Truth-- thus though I think this piece tries to slip its way past some important points, I post it here:

https://www.mercatornet.com/above/view/us-muslims-continue-the-long-american-tradition-of-religious-moderation/20371?utm_source=MercatorNet&utm_campaign=db8a4a3690-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_09_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e581d204e2-db8a4a3690-124674163

US Muslims continue the long American tradition of religious moderation
92 percent of Muslims agree, 'I am proud to be an American'.
Jeff Jacoby | Sep 7 2017 | comment


The story of American pluralism began with the migration of Puritan separatists, who came to the New World seeking a haven where they could practice their faith as they saw fit. The Puritans didn’t show much tolerance toward subsequent newcomers practicing other faiths, such as Quakers and Baptists. But those religions put down roots, and the intolerance evaporated over time.

That became the pattern. Though religious diversity is one of the hallmarks of American life, believers from less familiar traditions start out facing resentment and mistrust. After a while, those minority creeds and churches grow accepted and comfortable and become part of the nation’s religious and cultural mosaic.

The American way

We don’t often think about it, but it’s an amazing phenomenon. In a world torn by religious bitterness, the United States has repeatedly managed to assimilate clashing faiths. It was true for Quakers and Baptists in the 18th century, for Catholics in the 19th, and for Mormons and Jews in the 20th. It is proving true yet again in this century for American Muslims.

The Pew Research Center recently released the results of a detailed survey of Muslims in the United States – the third it has conducted since 2007.

It is no secret that many Americans, especially since 9/11, have come to regard Muslims with fear or suspicion. During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump fueled that animus, decrying the “great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population” and demanding a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Yet for all that, the Pew surveys make clear, US Muslims are replicating the age-old trajectory of religious minority communities: They adopt American values, reject fundamentalism, and form ties of friendship and love across religious lines.

In the latest poll, an overwhelming 92 percent of Muslims agree with the patriotic statement “I am proud to be an American.” When asked how much they feel they have in common with most Americans, 60 percent of Muslims say “a lot” and another 28 percent say “some.” Only 36 percent say that all or most of their friends are fellow Muslims, a striking drop from the 49 percent who said so in the 2011 survey – and far less than the 95 percent of Muslims who say so in other countries.

Rejecting fundamentalism and terrorism

Islamist fanaticism and terror have been among the world’s intractable problems for decades; Daniel Pipes has estimated that up to 15 percent of Muslims worldwide support “militant Islam.” There is no simple solution to the problem of militant Islamist extremism, and too many Americans – from Boston to Fort Hood to San Bernardino to Orlando – have been among its victims.

But as the Pew data show, the Muslim community in America is the most religiously tolerant and socially liberal Islamic population in the world. And Muslims in America, far from sanctioning deliberate violence against civilians, are actually more likely than the general public to oppose it in all circumstances.

In Pew’s latest survey, 59 percent of Americans overall said that targeting or killing civilians for a “political, social, or religious cause” can never be justified. Opposition among US Muslims, however, was 17 percentage points higher – three-fourths of Muslim respondents opposed such killings. The Cato Institute’s David Bier suggests that American Muslims are so strongly opposed to religion-based terrorism for the obvious reason that Muslims worldwide are its most frequent victims.

Perhaps it is for the same reason that Muslims in the United States are considerably more likely to reject fundamentalist or monolithic interpretations of Muslim teachings.

About 43 percent of US Muslims say they attend religious services at least once a week; 65 percent say religion is very important to them. For US Christians, the numbers are comparable – 47 percent say they go to church at least weekly, and 68 percent consider their religion very important in their lives.

Contrary to the popular view of Muslims as dogmatic, however, a large majority of those living in America take a latitudinarian approach to Islam and the Koran. Pew found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) “openly acknowledge that there is room for multiple interpretations” of their religion, and just over half of all US Muslims agree that “traditional understandings of Islam must be reinterpreted to reflect contemporary issues.” Polls of Muslims worldwide have found overwhelming majorities supporting a literal interpretation of the Koran; in America, fewer than half of Muslims do.

Similarly, a majority of Muslims in this country reject the view that Sharia should be a source (let alone the source) for national legislation. In France and Britain, by contrast, majorities of Muslims insist that Sharia should be the primary law of the land. When asked if there is “a natural conflict between the teachings of Islam and democracy,” 65 percent of American Muslims say no.

Americans of all faiths

All this is a wonderful affirmation of the power of “e pluribus unum” and the melting pot. It is a reminder of the fundamental difference between the blood-and-soil nationalism that prevails in Europe and the American conviction that nationhood is grounded in equality and natural rights.

During the debate on independence in 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declared that liberty in America must be universal, embracing “the Mahomitan [Muslim] and the Gentoo [Hindu] as well as the Christian religion.” The potency of that embrace has not diminished. Immigrants of every faith still come to America, and still turn into Americans.

Reprinted from the Boston Globe.

Jeff Jacoby has been a columnist for The Boston Globe since 1994. He has degrees from George Washington University and from Boston University Law School. Before entering journalism, he (briefly) practiced law at the prominent firm of Baker & Hostetler, worked on several political campaigns in Massachusetts, and was an assistant to Dr. John Silber, the president of Boston University. In 1999, Jeff became the first recipient of the Breindel Prize, a major award for excellence in opinion journalism. In 2014, he was included in the “Forward 50,” a list of the most influential American Jews.
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: September 06, 2017, 05:33:17 PM
It appears the Syrian civil war is entering its final stages. On Sept. 5, Syrian loyalist forces, in close conjunction with Iranian and Russian military forces, broke the Islamic State's three-year siege on the loyalist forces in Deir el-Zour. The arrival of the relief force in the city is one of the biggest developments on the Syrian battlefield since the loyalists captured Aleppo city, and heralds the extent to which government forces have gained the upper hand in the Syrian civil war since a year ago.

On the same day the loyalists forces reached Deir el-Zour, Israel began its largest military exercise since 1998. The combined arms exercise focuses on preparing for a potential war with Hezbollah along Israel's northern border, and is set to run for 10 days and involves tens of thousands of Israeli troops. The exercise, though planned more than a year in advance, is not unconnected to developments in Syria. Israel has been keenly observing the Syrian battlefield, deeply concerned by the momentum the Iran- and Russia-backed loyalist forces have seized over the past year.
He Who Controls Syria (and Its Borders)

Israeli leaders are increasingly aware that the Syrian civil war has reached the beginning of its end phase. As the conflict draws down, with Syrian troops reasserting their control over much of the country, Hezbollah will no longer be overstretched and encumbered by its massive involvement in the fighting. Hezbollah would in effect be able to redeploy its forces to Lebanon, boosted by years of tough combat experience as well as increased arms and equipment backing from Syria and Iran.

The relief of the Deir el-Zour garrison also factors into the increased support Hezbollah is expected to receive going forward: Retaking the city presages the completion of the logistical supply line running from Iran through Iraq to Syria and then to Lebanon. The arrival of Syrian loyalists at the Iraqi border isn't imminent: The loyalists still need to consolidate control over the city, fend off Islamic State counterattacks and cross the Euphrates River. Still, with the Iraqi border located less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of Deir el-Zour through sparsely populated terrain, the arrival of the loyalist forces there is more certain than ever.

The relief of the Deir el-Zour garrison also factors into the increased support Hezbollah is expected to receive going forward: Retaking the city presages the completion of the logistical supply line running from Iran through Iraq to Syria and then to Lebanon.

Contending with this loyalist advance eastward are tribal Arab fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a few thousand of whom are positioned around al-Shaddadi to the north. These U.S.-backed forces have made their ambitions to drive southward clear, and may end up skirmishing with loyalist forces on their way to the Iraqi border. The area also has many critical natural gas and oil fields, which will drive competition — and fighting — further. But the balance of forces in the area is decisively tilted toward the loyalists. And absent direct and sustained U.S. military action in support of an SDF drive south that pushes back loyalist attempts to advance (with all the ramifications such a move would have with Iran and Russia), the loyalist forces should be able to seize the energy fields and reach the Iraqi border east of the Euphrates River. Even in the unlikely event that the loyalist forces are impeded, they will still be able to secure a supply line to Iran by seizing the road through al-Bukamal further to the south that runs into Iraq at a border location on the west bank of the Euphrates River.

A More Aggressive Approach

With a direct Iranian land route to Lebanon all but certain and with the militant group able to draw down its commitments in the Syrian civil war, Israel faces the increased prospects of having to again face off against a stronger Hezbollah. The window in which Israel could attack Hezbollah while it's still distracted and overstretched with its commitments in Syria is closing. So, as Israel conducts its largest military exercise in 20 years, it's worth remembering that the military preparations are not entirely defensive. Tel Aviv will likely adopt a more aggressive approach toward Hezbollah in the coming months.

The extent of this approach depends on the calculations Israeli leaders make. The response could range from simply intensifying strikes on Hezbollah convoys to launching an outright preventive war against Hezbollah's missile and rocket stockpiles in Lebanon. Even if Israel only increases the scope of its airstrikes on Hezbollah positions in Syria, the likelihood of a full Israeli-Hezbollah conflict is very high, if not inevitable, especially as an emboldened Hezbollah would find it necessary to retaliate to deter further Israeli attacks. The Syrian civil war, then, could lead to another regional conflict, even as it reaches its end stages.
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why King Abdullah chose Jews as his Bodyguards on: September 06, 2017, 05:15:52 PM


https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/why-king-abdullah-chose-jews-as-his-bodyguards.422612/
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science, Military Issues, and the Nature of War on: September 06, 2017, 09:53:41 AM
This is an exceedingly important issue.  Apparent force advantages can prove to be illusory.  Bush 43 was not great but Obama sat back while the Chinese stole us blind.

IMHO we are vulnerable to blitzkrieg defeat due to these factors.
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Negotiating a path to dialogue with Nork? on: September 06, 2017, 08:38:56 AM
Stratfor Worldview

   
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on geopolitics

Sep 6, 2017 | 11:20 GMT
Negotiating a Path to Dialogue With North Korea
By Rodger Baker
VP of Strategic Analysis, Stratfor

North Korea is making every effort to broadcast that it feels it can tolerate war on its territory far better than the United States could, having withstood the Japanese invasion, World War II and the Korean War.
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The path toward dialogue with North Korea looks fainter by the day. Washington is calling for increased isolation of the North Korean government, announcing expanded arms sales to South Korea and Japan, and promising to deploy additional strategic assets in and around the Korean Peninsula. Even the South Korean government has said that dialogue may have to wait, since North Korea's latest nuclear test and rapid-fire missile launches threaten to destabilize the security balance in East Asia.

Beijing, meanwhile, has kept up its calls for talks, though it also has advocated stronger sanctions on Pyongyang. The most important thing, China insists, is that the United States and North Korea sit down to talk — whether in a multilateral, trilateral, bilateral or whatever possible format. From Beijing's perspective, dialogue is the only way to ease the heightened tensions in Korea, while excessive sanctions or coercive tactics are largely ineffective, if not counterproductive. It's becoming increasingly obvious, however, that Washington and Beijing differ in their thinking about talks with North Korea. Having just returned from two weeks spent engaged in unofficial dialogues and exchanges in the region, I can attest that the gulf separating China from the United States is as wide as the media makes it out to be. But the reasons behind the divergence are different from the ones so often described in the news.
The Value of Talk

Washington sees talks as a means to an end — in this case, the denuclearization of North Korea. Negotiations are worth the effort only if they will roll back Pyongyang's weapons programs. In two and a half decades of talks though, each agreement struck to that end has broken down, and all the while, North Korea has slowly but steadily improved its nuclear and missile capabilities. Politicians in the United States consequently have come to view dialogue as appeasement or even capitulation. By negotiating with Pyongyang, Washington has "allowed" North Korea to become a nuclear state and to use that status against it.

The issue, at its heart, is about more than North Korea. It's about the national security strategy that Washington has crafted over the past two centuries, a strategy built on the judicious use of force abroad to demonstrate that the United States is a reliable ally. "Allowing" North Korea to attain a long-range nuclear missile after decades of declaring that such an outcome would never happen may not, in itself, fundamentally alter the U.S. security situation. But it could change the perception of the United States' power, influence and commitment to its allies. Talk is cheap and, without concrete action to back it up, potentially damaging.

For China, on the other hand, the end result is less important than the dialogue itself. The very act of engaging in talks helps relieve the immediate tensions, from Beijing's point of view, and reduces the chances of an accident or miscalculation that could lead to conflict.

There's a logic to this position. Isolation and containment without engagement haven't discouraged North Korea in its quest for nuclear weapons or changed Pyongyang's feeling that its leadership is under threat from the United States. Economic pressure, moreover, has done little to weaken the government's resolve: In 1998, during its worst years of famine, North Korea developed and tested its first satellite launch vehicle. While it's true that talks haven't stopped North Korea from developing its arsenal, nor have they reassured Pyongyang enough to drop its strategic weapons program, they have slowed the pace of development and testing. North Korea has delayed tests during brief periods of negotiation. It even destroyed the cooling tower of the Yongbyon reactor amid negotiations in 2008 (and then began rebuilding it when the discussions broke down). Beijing already informally considers North Korea a nuclear weapons state, albeit one with limited capabilities. And since ignoring or denying the reality won't change the situation for the better, it argues, could talking really make things worse?

Notwithstanding the improvement in their range, which may now extend to the U.S. mainland, China doesn't see North Korea's missiles as a greater threat to the United States now than they were before. Pyongyang, after all, already could launch missiles at U.S. bases in South Korea, Japan, and probably Guam and Hawaii, too, meaning its nuclear-capable weapons already offered it a deterrent. Securing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) won't increase North Korea's risk to the United States, Beijing asserts, not least of all because Pyongyang's long-range missiles are liquid-fueled and, as a result, take longer to fire up. Washington would have enough time to launch a pre-emptive strike on Pyongyang should it feel the need, and failing that, its layered missile defense system would take care of the problem, at least in theory.

Furthermore, assuming the goal of North Korea's nuclear program really is to ensure the Kim dynasty's continued reign, then Pyongyang is susceptible to traditional means of deterrence. North Korea won't launch its missiles proactively because doing so would invite the destruction of its government. From China's perspective, the United States isn't closing in on some dreadful deadline that will require a military solution, rather than a program to manage North Korea in the long term. And if it is, the best path forward is to reduce the sense of crisis instead of amplifying it with rash statements and shows of military force.
Reassessing the Palliative Approach

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been largely satisfied with merely managing the North Korea issue. Part of the reason for this strategy was the belief (extant in some circles to this day) that the government in Pyongyang would collapse at any moment, that it would simply disintegrate as the governments of so many other Communist bloc countries did after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The conventional military threat that North Korea posed to South Korea was another factor; the cost of physical intervention on the Korean Peninsula outweighed the danger Pyongyang presented. At the same time, North Korea wasn't going to start a war it couldn't win. So though Pyongyang was a bit of a destabilizing force from a political standpoint, it wasn't a direct military threat to the United States, least of all to the continental United States.

Today, that perception is changing rapidly. The problem isn't so much that a few unreliable nuclear-tipped ICBMs could bring the United States to its knees but that the country has spent more than a century trying to ensure that no power could threaten to bring war to its mainland. What's more, the United States does not share China's view of North Korea as a rational actor that responds to traditional deterrence theory. North Korea operates more like a kingdom of old than like a modern nation state. The willingness and ability of the country's elite to sacrifice the population, and to accept higher levels of risk, make it less predictable and, by extension, less coercible. The sorts of deterrents that kept the Soviet Union or China from belligerency may not work on North Korea. Management may no longer be a politically viable option for the United States, even if it is militarily possible.
Misreading Pyongyang

China and the United States alike have based their assessments of the situation on their perceptions of North Korea's capability, intent and predictability. But both of them may be misreading Pyongyang. The United States has misjudged the effectiveness of sanctions on the North for decades. More recently, North Korea's missile test flight over Japan surprised China, which thought that Pyongyang had backed off its launches for fear of military reprisal from the United States and was instead preparing to resume negotiations.

And that brings us to the North Korean strategy. Pyongyang is using unofficial channels to emphasize that it will not entertain negotiations devoted to denuclearization but that it is open to talks that would lead the United States and its allies to accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. With characteristic bravado, North Korea claims that it already has hundreds of warheads, hinting that it may have acquired additional nuclear material through the Russian black market. The declaration may sound incredible at face value, but then again so did the notion that the North had developed hydrogen-bomb technology a year ago. Pyongyang hides just enough plausible truth in its boasts to make other countries rethink their intelligence assessments and expectations. To strengthen its case, meanwhile, North Korea is committed to demonstrating its ability to field both atomic and hydrogen bombs while perfecting its submarine-launched ballistic missiles, along with land-based, road-mobile systems. We haven't seen the last of North Korea's missile tests, no matter what sanctions the U.N. Security Council devises.

Pyongyang envisions itself as the David to Washington's Goliath, the righteous underdog taking aim at the U.S. behemoth with an ICBM for a sling and a hydrogen bomb warhead for a stone. North Korea is making every effort to broadcast that it feels it can tolerate war on its territory far better than the United States could, having withstood the Japanese invasion, World War II and the Korean War. By contrast, the United States hasn't experienced an international conflict on its continental territory for well over a century and lacks the political stamina to accept the risk of war on its mainland or so North Korea imagines. So while Pyongyang's nuclear program is primarily an effort to ensure the government's survival, as Washington and Beijing assume, it is also an attempt to shape the regional security dynamic. A conventional deterrent, such as the military capabilities that Pyongyang long relied on to discourage a physical intervention on the Korean Peninsula, will only keep the United States from taking proactive action. A nuclear weapon, however, could be enough to change Washington's strategic assessment of Asia, compelling the United States to reduce and eventually withdraw its forces in South Korea.

And even if North Korea doesn't use its nuclear capabilities to start a war, the sheer fact of their accomplishment could prove the futility of U.S. security guarantees to South Korea. The achievement also could give Pyongyang the leverage it needs to engage in a direct dialogue with the United States geared toward normalizing their relations, conceivably bringing North Korea one step closer to unification through nonmilitary means. Pyongyang has set an ambitious deadline for reaching the first benchmark in its broader political alignment: North Korea plans to be a recognized and normalized nuclear weapons state by the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Between now and then, it expects a confrontation with the United States, and it is letting Washington decide what shape the conflict will take — military or merely political.

Neither Beijing nor Washington is exactly right about the prospect of negotiating with North Korea. China assumes that North Korea would agree to suspend its missile and nuclear programs in talks so long as the United States promised to ease up on its military activity on the Korean Peninsula. The United States, meanwhile, assumes that coercion is the most effective way to get North Korea to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons. But North Korea has little intention of delaying, much less ending, its nuclear and missile programs. Pyongyang wants to come back to the negotiating table — but this time as a peer among fellow nuclear powers.
137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: September 05, 2017, 06:57:09 PM
North Korea has sent the international community scrambling once again. Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test appeared to show substantial progress toward attaining a credible deterrent. In an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting Sept. 4, the United States called for the "strongest possible measures" to be imposed against North Korea. And it is now drafting a proposal for further sanctions, which it hopes to submit for a vote Sept. 11.

If the United States holds to this one-week timeline for a vote, it would be unprecedented in terms of speed. China and Russia, who normally try to insulate North Korea, usually assent to some level of sanctions in the wake of nuclear tests, but it ordinarily takes weeks of talks to achieve critical U.S.-China consensus. This test, though, is particularly embarrassing for China, given it came during the BRICS summit, paralleling North Korea's missile test during China's Belt and Road summit in May. However, both Russia and China have reiterated their position that sanctions alone are not a sufficient response to North Korea and that they must be accompanied by dialogue. They will continue to repeat this argument in the days and weeks to come.

If Russia and China assent to new sanctions, they are unlikely to be the sort of harsh measures touted by the United States. The last set of U.N. sanctions passed Aug. 5 avoided applying too much pressure on North Korea in a compromise with Chinese and Russian wishes. Moreover, these former sanctions are still in the implementation phase until early November — another argument Russia and China could use against the U.S. push for new swift, harsh measures.

There are a number of sectors that the United States and its allies could target for sanctions pressure. Chief among them would be North Korea's massive textile exports. Other avenues could be sanctions on supplies of crude and refined oil products, a ban on the use of North Korean labor abroad, or further financial sanctions. But even where the United States can secure U.N. sanctions, the slow-moving economic pressure would be unlikely to deter North Korea until it has achieved a credible nuclear deterrent.

The United States also has unilateral options. The U.S. Department of Treasury might opt for further secondary sanctions, namely against Chinese financial institutions. This, too, would run up against the fact that going after larger Chinese institutions could damage the U.S. economy and would not likely change China's strategy toward North Korea.

The North Korean nuclear test also provoked a flurry of military announcements. The United States confirmed Sept. 5 that it had agreed to ease limits on South Korea's ballistic missile defense measures that have been in discussion since late July. U.S. President Donald Trump also said that he would allow Japan and South Korea to buy sophisticated military equipment, likely referring to air- and sea-launched cruise missiles, targeting systems and other hardware. Such sales would take years to finalize and are distinct from the current situation with North Korea.

Other military measures, however, bear close monitoring. The United States is considering an accelerated and increased rotation of tactical and strategic assets to the Korean peninsula and to the surrounding region. This includes the dispatch of F-22 and F-35B stealth fighters to South Korea on a rotational basis. U.S. submarines and aircraft carriers will also likely be deployed in increased numbers around the Korean peninsula.

South Korea's political and diplomatic posture will also be critical here, especially given that Seoul has advocated a softer response toward Pyongyang. South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo said South Korea would lay aside dialogue and turn to punishing the North. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the goal is still the same, but it is not the time for talks. This does not mean, however, that Moon has fully abandoned his push for more amicable relations — he has left the door open for low-level engagement even as he shores up the South's defenses.

Amid all of this, it is important to remember that North Korea will continue to test weapons according to its technical timeline. It has also not yet cast aside its threat of an "enveloping strike" on Guam. Separately, South Korea's defense ministry said Sept. 4 that North Korea appears to be preparing another missile test, possibly of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / North Korea's ultimatum to America-- serious read! on: September 05, 2017, 11:12:27 AM
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/North-Koreas-ultimatum-to-America-504213
139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / North Korea's ultimatum to America-- serious read! on: September 05, 2017, 11:11:56 AM
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/North-Koreas-ultimatum-to-America-504213
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / North Korea's ultimatum to America-- serious read! on: September 05, 2017, 11:11:23 AM
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/North-Koreas-ultimatum-to-America-504213
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: September 04, 2017, 09:44:06 PM
Good find CCP.
142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Second American Civil War on: September 04, 2017, 09:40:12 PM
Very interesting read, but this is not the thread for it.
143  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / That SLC arrest of a nurse on: September 04, 2017, 02:31:37 PM
https://bluelivesmatter.blue/salt-lake-nurse-arrest-video/
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strassel: Making Growth Great Again on: September 02, 2017, 10:27:48 AM
Making Growth Great Again
The GOP should learn from how Trump is selling supply-side tax cuts.
President Trump in Springfield, Mo., Aug. 30.
President Trump in Springfield, Mo., Aug. 30. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
By Kimberley A. Strassel
Aug. 31, 2017 7:10 p.m. ET
85 COMMENTS

In May 2014, a broad collection of thinkers and politicians gathered in Washington to celebrate a new conservative “manifesto.” The document called for replacing stodgy old Reaganite economics with warmer, fuzzier handouts to the middle class. Donald Trump must have missed the memo.

The president formally opened the tax wars on Wednesday with his speech in Missouri challenging Congress to meet his principles for reform. The media almost uniformly applied to the speech its favorite (though misused) descriptor: “populist.” But the real news was that Mr. Trump wants to make Reagan-style tax reform great again.

The left saw this clearly, which explains its furious and frustrated reaction to the speech. “Trump’s New Tax Scam: Selling Plutocracy as Populism,” ran a headline in Vanity Fair, bemoaning that “Trickle-down is back, baby.” Democratic strategist Robert Shrum railed in a Politico piece that the “plutocrat” Mr. Trump was pitching a tax cut for “corporations and the top 1 percent” yet was getting away with a “perverted populism.” Trump voters had been “tricked into voting against themselves,” and now Mr. Trump was pulling a similar con with taxes.

Nonsense. Mr. Trump is selling pro-growth policies—something his party has forgotten how to do. And there’s nothing very “populist” about it, at least not by today’s political standards. The left has defined the tax debate for decades in terms of pure class warfare. Republicans have so often been cast as stooges for the rich that the GOP is scared to make the full-throated case for a freer and fairer tax system. It was precisely the right’s desire for a more “populist” tax policy that gave us the Reformicons and their manifesto for buying off the middle class.

Mr. Trump isn’t playing this game—and that’s why the left is unhappy. The president wants to reduce business tax rates significantly and encourage American companies to repatriate billions of profits held overseas. He wants to simplify the tax code in a way that will eliminate many cherished carve-outs. He wants tax relief for “middle income Americans,” though he also praised to the sky the 1986 Reagan reform that reduced the number of tax brackets and significantly lowered top marginal rates.

Mr. Trump did sneak a nod to Ivanka into the speech by including her proposal to hand out taxpayer money for child care. But his address was largely a hymn to supply-side economics, stunning Democrats who believed they’d forever dispelled such voodoo.

What made the left even more apoplectic was the president’s manner of sales pitch. What journalists always fail to note is the difference between “populist” policies and a “populist” delivery (of which Reagan was a master). Mr. Trump has defined himself as the protector of America’s forgotten man, an outsider to the swamp, an America Firster. The result is that he is uniquely qualified to sell a tax plan decried as “elitist” to average Americans.
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: September 02, 2017, 10:26:03 AM
 grin grin grin
146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: September 02, 2017, 10:22:52 AM
"Sean M. Davis had a good point yesterday on Twitter: If Comey had drafted his girl's Get Out of Jail Free pass in April, what the hell was he doing issuing immunity to all of Hillary's cronies before Fake-Interviewing them? Having fixed the outcome, was he now just making sure there were no witnesses left unimmunized who could disturb the fix?"

Good questions!
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kid Rock on: September 02, 2017, 10:20:17 AM
http://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/348921-kid-rock-lashes-out-over-alleged-campaign-finance-violation
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Havok Journal: Don't expect China to be on our side in war on jihadism on: September 01, 2017, 08:14:16 PM
http://havokjournal.com/national-security/china-will-eventually-enter-war-terror-dont-expect-side/?utm_source=Havok+Journal&utm_campaign=2649a90698-Havok_Journal_Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_566058f87c-2649a90698-214571297
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Caveat lector: Obama DHS called Antifa "domestic terrorist group" in 4/16 on: September 01, 2017, 05:40:12 PM
Its Breitbart so caveat lector

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/09/01/report-fbi-labeled-antifa-domestic-terrorism-way-ryan-rubio-romney-declared-no-sides/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=daily&utm_content=links&utm_campaign=20170901
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues on: September 01, 2017, 05:37:47 PM
I saw Tucker last night.  As usual, he was awesome.

Changing subjects, I would like to mention once again the OAN: One America Network.  With no opinions and no attention paid to the teleprompter readers, it has damn near four times the amount of news per hour as the other networks-- and there is no liberal/progressive bias!!! There are many stories about other parts of the world that I find interesting. The only drawback is a relatively slow turnover of stories.  What you see in the evening is pretty much what you saw in the morning.  Once a day suffices.
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